Paternal investment and role satisfaction are determined by multiple factors. Biologically, paternal care is facilitated by a decline of testosterone (T) during the transition to fatherhood. This process is considered to mediate a trade-off between mating and parenting, allowing the father to concentrate future resources on childcare activities. The hormonal change is moderated by active childcare or personality traits and can be accompanied by psychosocial consequences, e.g. changes in relationship or sexual satisfaction.
Considering that T levels show substantial inter-individual variation among fathers, the question emerges whether fathers with a higher T level show less satisfaction with their fatherhood due to potential role conflicts. Goal of the present analysis is to investigate the consequences of hormonal correlates of fatherhood on satisfaction with the father role across the overall period of child development.
164 biological fathers (aged 25-62 years) of under-age children (number of children: 1-4) who reported being in a steady relationship with their children's mother were included in this analysis. All fathers participated in our online-survey on psychosocial conditions and costs of fatherhood across the lifespan. Amongst other parameters, paternal involvement, relationship satisfaction, personality, stress and well-being have been assessed. In addition, biological parameters, including T, were measured by collecting saliva samples.
First results show a direct positive association between salivary T and the perceived constraint due to fatherhood. These results suggest that the hormonal correlates of fatherhood might represent one factor determining paternal role satisfaction, resulting from a biologically-determined conflict between mating and parenting in high T fathers.