MAZUR & BOOTH - STEELE COMM
HONOUR SUBCULTURES & THE RECIPROCAL MODEL
Mazur and Booth make a convincing case for the involvement of T in
male dominance-seeking behaviour, and for the reciprocal nature of
This is true. Studies of competition provide support for the
reciprocal model, which maintains that T may influence male dominant
behaviour and male dominant behaviour may influence T.
Left handedness may be influenced by fetal testosterone levels
(Geschwind & Galaburda 1987) and may also be associated with
enhanced spatial cognition in adult males. An indirect test of the
hypothesis linking fetal T levels (and thus, by implication,
postnatal basal T) with subsequent handedness involves assessment
of interactions between hand preference and immune status in
children or adults.
It may be possible to assess levels of T by considering handedness and
immune status in children or adults.
<This follows from the well-known association between elevated T and
suppression of immune function in vertebrates generally (Zuk 1996).
Other things being equal, we would therefore expect prolonged
elevated T levels to be associated with poorer health status even
Since T is associated with suppression of the immune system, it is
likely that men with high levels of T will be of poorer health status.
There seems to be many studies that highlight the association between
T and dominant seeking behaviour. Dominant seeking behaviour has
evolutionary advantages in terms of acquisition of resources, mates,
etc. However, being of `poor health status' would hold no
evolutionary advantage. Therefore, it seems strange that these two
factors may be related.
We would also expect to find in 'honour subcultures', a suppressive
effect of chronically elevated T levels on immune status and thus
on health. However, unless the chronically elevated T levels
characterized as the product of an 'honour subculture' among young
adult males in the reciprocal model somehow influence the fetal
hormonal environment of their offspring, we would not expect to see
atypical patterns of adult male hand preference or other measures
of cerebral dominance.
Is Steele saying that if elevated T was caused by the honour
subculture (an environment which required dominant behaviour), that
children born from it's members, should have average (and not
elevated) T levels? Or that there will be no differences in hand
preference or cerebral dominance. Does this mean that T has a genetic
The sample of 4,462 army veterans in which Mazur (1995) found an
apparent effect on T and on behavioural deviance of participation
in an inner-city, low educational attainment honour subculture, is
the same sample of 4,462 army veterans in which Dabbs (1992), Booth
& Dabbs (1993) and Booth & Osgood (1993) found correlations between
elevated T and low occupational status, marital dissatisfaction,
and criminality. These correlations could therefore be due to
latent socio-economic variables (mediated by the interaction of
age, race and educational level, in the terms of the veterans'
survey), rather than to the effects of T on behaviour.
Since elevated T is associated with behavioural deviance and elevated
T is associated with low occupational status, marital dissatisfaction
and criminality, maybe behavioural deviance is caused by the low
occupational status, marital dissatisfaction and criminality.
Therefore, it is possible that elevated T may be a consequence of
behavioural deviance and not the cause.
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