Monday, January 13, 2014

Patriarchy and Testosterone

As promised in my last blog post, and building on what I wrote for my Module 1 discussion response, is the following topic about testosterone and dominance in men.  (Notably, a different kind of dominance occurs in women, but is linked with estradiol – an estrogen hormone, as well as varying levels of testosterone link).  In fact, this article link (and a separate 40 year scientific study) is a rather nice accompaniment to the concepts discussed by Reeser in the textbook.  

(It should not be under-emphasized that other hormones, such as those in the thyroid also play a significant role in the natural proclivity to dominate others; see my other post (link).  The import of these studies linking hormones to behavior is that behavior is causally determined (see my previous post (link) and that patriarchy is probably here to stay :( (That is, unless you could simultaneously create a massive social campaign and also dope all males with antiandrogens, without their knowledge – definitely an enticing possibility!! LOL).  – also would need to somehow avoid the unintentional side effect of causing gynocomastia, another LOL 

As this article (link) from Psychology Today shows, testosterone is associated with dominance, gaining higher social status, aggressive tendencies, competitiveness, and illegal social resistance (such as graffiti).  The article also discusses analogies to the role of testosterone in Game of Thrones (a TV series I unfortunately have not seen).  

A much more thorough, scientific paper published in the journal, “Behavioral and Brain Sciences,” better distinguishes what roles testosterone plays.  Like the Psychology Today article, this one points out that males also express power in nonaggressive ways (mirroring Reeser’s concept of “insidious power”).  Amazingly, this particular study collected data from U.S. Air Force veterans, over 40 years.  One key part of the study was collecting data on the relationship between basal T levels and marital relationships among men, in a sample of 2,100 U.S. Air Force veterans.  Not surprisingly, “…men with higher basal T levels are less likely to marry and more likely to divorce…”  The article also points out the relationship between environment and T levels (paralleling what I discussed about “nature vs. nurture in my previous blog post).  As is written in the article: “...that experience affects androgen secretion, the androgens affect behavior, the behavioral experience affects the androgen secretion, and so on.”

It’s really quite an amazing journal article, but it is so comprehensive in scope that it occupies 45 pages!!  Unfortunately, I cannot link you to the full article, as I only obtained it through the UCF Library academic journal search.  However, you can view the article abstract here: (Also available below from the clickable links)

Testosterone and Dominance in Men  (this journal article also happens to have an entire section on testosterone and women, despite its title)

No comments: