Constantino - Dominance and Aggression over the life
course: timing and direction of causal influences.
> Studies of testosterone's effect on dominance are
> confounded by the effects of dominance experiences on
> testosterone. Furthermore, antisocial behavior tends to
> originate prepubertally, when T levels are the same for
> aggressive males, non-aggressive males, and females. It
> seems more parsimonious to view variation in testosterone
> as an effect of dominance-related mood states than to
> invoke a reciprocal mode.
Although Constantino applauds the target authors for their
work in moving the field away from a simplistic causal
relationship he raises issues concerning their reciprocal
link. Criticisms regarding methodology are highlighted
especially concerning the one-time samplings of T. Since
elevations of T can last for days at a time these are
confounded by :
> the fact that more dominant, violent, or aggressive
> individuals are more likely to have recently engaged in
> dominance experiences that have boosted their testosterone
Similarly Constantino criticises the varying and
inconsistent psychological outcomes associated with T - is
it age at first violent offense, aggressiveness, hard drug
use etc ...?? This is a worthy comment and reflects an
inconsistency in the literature.
Constantino then goes on to consider what the dependent
variable represents in T->D studies and highlights the
difference between real-life dominance relationships and
those investigated in the laboratory.
> Particularly in impulsive individuals, perceived threats
> to safety or autonomy are often responded to with
> affective outbursts that blur the distinction between
> dominance behaviour and aggressive behaviour.
Indeed this blurred distinction between dominance and
aggression fails to be fully elucidated in the target
article. It is questionnable whether or not it is truly
possible to distinguish between them at all especially when
only inferring motive, as seems to be the case in the
majority of examples cited.
> The problem with distinguishing aggression from dominance
> in real life human situations is not new.
Constantino then cites the failing of child psychiatric
literature to differentiate conduct disorder into
socialised and undersocialised types.
> This has direct relevance to the target article because
> the strongest predictor of antisocial development and
> aggressive propensity in adulthood is conduct disorder in
> childhood (Robins, 1966).
In conclusion, Constantino considers it
> more parsimonious to view variations in adult T as an
> effect of dominance-related mood states than to invoke the
> existence of a reciprocal model.
Unfortunately the content of these dominance-related mood
states fail to be explicated at all.
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