Stress Hormones and Competition

I just finished my first post for Wired Playbook,  which talks about the hormonal changes that occur in the body during competition.  Whether the hormones levels increase or decrease may give some insight into the psychological readiness of a contender.

Armed with cotton swabs coated with pulverized Sweet Tarts candy, researchers took saliva samples minutes before two monkeys engaged in a staged competition for a pile of food. When dominant males won, there was a clear increase in the stress hormone right before the competition. In these cases, the dominant male was ready. He had sized up his opponent and knew, no doubt, that he’d prevail.


Conversely, when the dominant male lost, the hormone level decreased before the food game. Although these apes live in very well-defined social societies – and the dominant male had more than likely battled with this opponent before and won – something had psyched him out.

Read the full post here.