Relatively little is known about the effects of endogenous and exogenous steroid hormones on ecologically relevant behavioral and cognitive phenotypes in women, such as emotion recognition, despite the widespread use of steroid hormone-altering hormonal contraceptives (HCs). Though some previous studies have examined the effect of HC use, estradiol, progesterone, and testosterone on emotion recognition in women, they have been limited by cross-sectional designs, small sample sizes (total n < 100), and compromised statistical power to detect significant effects. Using data from two test sessions in a large sample of naturally cycling women (NC; n = 192) and women on HCs (n = 203), we found no group differences in emotion recognition; further, the lack of group differences in emotion recognition was not modulated by item difficulty or emotional valence. Among NC women who provided saliva samples across two sessions that were assayed for estradiol and progesterone concentrations, we found no compelling evidence across models that between-subject differences and within-subject fluctuations in these ovarian hormones predicted emotion recognition accuracy, with the exception that between-subjects estradiol negatively predicted emotion recognition for emotions of neutral valence (p = .042). Among HC women who provided saliva samples across two sessions that were assayed for testosterone, we found no compelling evidence that between-subjects differences and within-subject fluctuations in testosterone predicted emotion recognition accuracy. Overall, our analyses provide little support for the idea that circulating endogenous or exogenous ovarian hormones influence emotion recognition in women.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
- Behavioral Neuroscience