Mazur 4.

From: Hale Pippa (
Date: Thu May 21 1998 - 11:23:16 BST


> Because of the practical and ethical difficulties in observing or
> even allowing high aggression in human subjects, researchers are
> often tempted to measure aggression, or aggressive or hostile
> feelings, by administering paper-and-pencil tests.

How accurate can paper-and-pencil tests be? People may not be
totally honest in their replies and may make themselves out to be
more aggressive than they actually are or more passive. They also
might not be able to assess their own aggressiveness. They may
compare their levels to that of others who are more aggressive than
themselves even if they are aggressive.

> It seems clear that T is not related in any consistent way with
> aggression as measured on common
> personality scales. Furthermore, performance on these
> paper-and-pencil tests is not always correlated with actual
> aggressive acts and there is little evidence of their relevance to
> violent or dominant behavior (Buss et al. 1968; Kreuz and Rose 1972;
> Brain 1994). We agree with Archer (1991) that studies based on
> self-assessment of aggressive traits or predispositions have limited
> relevance.

I would agree that there is little relevance betwen self-assessment
and aggressive acts.

> Focusing on more concrete indicators of
> behavior, there are several reports associating relatively high T
> with dominant, aggressive, or antisocial actors, including several
> studies of men in jail.

Are those in jail different to the general population anyway? Those
in jail may have committed crimes that were violent, although not all
crimes are violent. It is likely that as a whole the population in
jail will be more aggressive than the general population.

> On the other hand, Bain et al. (1987) found no significant
> difference in T between men charged with murder or assault, and
> those charged with property crimes.

> Overall, there is considerable evidence from a variety of settings
> that in men, circulating T is correlated with dominant or aggressive
> behavior, and antisocial norm breaking.

I would generally agree with this statement. Does it also apply to
women? Women have testosterone in far lower quantities, does this
account for them being more passive? Do the women who are more
aggressive have higher levels of testosterone compared to other
women, and how does this compare to male levels?

> Is high T a cause of dominant and antisocial behavior?

Or is it just that T rises when we are aggressive or dominant? This
could also be examined using women as well as men. It is important
that behavioural methods are used not just pencil-and-paper tests.

> Attempts have also been made to evaluate the behavioral effect of T
> by analogy with the behavioral effects of anabolic steroids (Bahrke
> 1993).

Seroids are taken in huge quantities and not enough is known about
them, and those who take them, to assess whether they produce more
aggressive behaviours in atheletes.

> It seems likely that in the near future, properly controlled
> experiments will convincingly test whether or not T is a cause of
> dominant behavior in men. At present, however, this remains an
> unconfirmed hypothesis.

I would agree that there is a high probablity that testosterone is
related to aggression and dominance in adulthood although as yet
there is not sufficient evidence for it.

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