Skip to main content

Testosterone administration in women increases the size of their peripersonal space


Peripersonal space (PPS) is the space immediately surrounding the body, conceptualised as a sensory-motor interface between body and environment. PPS size differs between individuals and contexts, with intrapersonal traits and states, as well as social factors having a determining role on the size of PPS. Testosterone plays an important role in regulating social-motivational behaviour and is known to enhance dominance motivation in an implicit and unconscious manner. We investigated whether the dominance-enhancing effects of testosterone reflect as changes in the representation of PPS in a within-subjects testosterone administration study in women (N = 19). Participants performed a visuo-tactile integration task in a mixed-reality setup. Results indicated that the administration of testosterone caused a significant enlargement of participants’ PPS, suggesting that testosterone caused participants to implicitly appropriate a larger space as their own. These findings suggest that the dominance-enhancing effects of testosterone reflect at the level of sensory-motor processing in PPS.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3

Code availability

Not applicable.

Availability of data and material

Not applicable.


Download references


CJM received support from the University of Cape Town and the Ernst & Ethel Erickson Trust.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Catherine Masson.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

Ethics approval

This research involved human participants. The study was approved by the local ethics committees—the University of Cape Town (UCT) Psychology Department and the UCT Health Sciences Human Research Ethics Committee. The study was performed in accordance with the ethical standards laid down in the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki.

Consent to participate

All participants gave informed written consent to take part in the study.

Additional information

Communicated by Francesca Frassinetti.

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Masson, C., van der Westhuizen, D., Noel, JP. et al. Testosterone administration in women increases the size of their peripersonal space. Exp Brain Res 239, 1639–1649 (2021).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • Visuo-tactile
  • Hormones
  • Bodily self-consciousness
  • Multisensory integration
  • Social dominance