Most researchers believe that certain factors contribute in an
individual expressing both aggression and dominance.
Cohen richly illustrates how the social environment may influence
whether aggression accompanies T-related dominance. Environments
fraught with threats are more likely to call out aggressive behavior
than those which are not (see also Mueller). Environments that call
out for pro-social responses (boardrooms) are more likely to see
expressions of dominance not accompanied by aggression than are
those for which pro-social responses are not expected (prisons).
It is true that to a certain degree an individual's social
environment and social learning contributes to their expression of
dominance and aggression. Chambers found that even if two males had
high T levels in the same situation, they would display it depending
on their past social histories. Perhaps the link between T and
divorce is also due to an individual's personality traits or early
Mazur then proceeds to describe other factors which contribute to the
expression of dominance and aggression.
Constantino suggests that a very different biological mechanism may
be involved in the expression of aggression than in dominance.
Specifically, he proposes that serotonin is related to severe
unrestrained aggression whereas T is more related to dominance-
This needs to be considered, although there is a lack of evidence.
Other factors besides the social environment and biological
explanations can partly explain the expression of dominance and
aggression. An example being the mood of the individual. If a
person wants to be agressive and fees that they are justifeid, no
matter what their environment desires, they will inflict harm.
Constantino also suggests a different mechanism for dominance
and aggression, perhaps T is only associated with a response to
challenge, rather than aggresion, or that dominance is not an aspect
of aggressive related behaviour.
Also, a given behaviour can be motivated by multiple motivational
systems, which suggests that all the factors are probably interacting
with each other.
Mazur proceeded to discuss whether T effected behaviour and social
relations. Views were varied, ranging from an acceptance to a
rejection of T's effects. Two examples are shown below;
Hines rejects the idea of T influencing behavior and suggests that
anyone who believes otherwise has "cognitive schemas" about race and
sex which are not borne out by empirical evidence.
Archer and Christensen and Breedlove echo this
view by suggesting that any influence T has is largely a product of
developmental or experiential history. We concur with the notion
that the impact of basal T on adult behavior may be influenced by
early social experiences or by T's neurological organizing
Chambers suggested that the diferences in aggression associated with
differences in T availability during the developmentsl period, leads
to circulating T in adulthood. Males who are both prenatally stressed
and expoaed to foetal alcohol shoeed severe deficits in male
copulating behaviours, despite a normal concentration of T. When they
were given exogenous androgen thsi was overcome. This also suggests
that there must be differnces between the sexes.
Dabbs alerts us to situations where T appears to be related to
factors unrelated to dominance behavior or aggression. For example,
he reports a study showing that father's T drops immediately
following the birth of his child. In many cultures becoming a father
is a sign of achievement, a time when we would expect an increase in
This shows us that we really do not understand everything yet. We
must remain speculative until we have more scientific evidence. The
only robus evidence is T's effects on sexual behaviours.
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