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Reactive aggression tracks within-participant changes in women's salivary testosterone


Probst, Fabian; Golle, Jessika; Lory, Vanda; Lobmaier, Janek S (2018). Reactive aggression tracks within-participant changes in women's salivary testosterone. Aggressive Behavior, 44(4):362-371.

Abstract

The relation between testosterone and aggression has been relatively well documented in men, but it is less well understood in women. Here we assessed the relationship between salivary testosterone and reactive aggression (i.e., rejection rate for unfair offers) in the Ultimatum Game. Forty naturally cycling women were tested twice, once in the late follicular phase (around ovulation) and once during the luteal phase. Ovulation was determined using urine test strips measuring luteinizing hormone levels. Salivary samples were assayed for testosterone, estradiol, progesterone, and cortisol at both test sessions. There was no association with the cycle, but multilevel modeling revealed a significant within-participant association between testosterone and rejection rate for extremely unfair offers (i.e., high reactive aggression), indicating that women showed greater reactive aggression when their testosterone levels were higher. Additionally, we found that women with relatively high individual concentrations of testosterone were more likely to reject extremely unfair offers than women with relatively low concentrations of testosterone. This study is the first to demonstrate that women react more aggressively in response to provocation when their testosterone level is high than when their testosterone is low, suggesting that testosterone plays an important role in the regulation of women's aggressive behavior following social provocation.

Abstract

The relation between testosterone and aggression has been relatively well documented in men, but it is less well understood in women. Here we assessed the relationship between salivary testosterone and reactive aggression (i.e., rejection rate for unfair offers) in the Ultimatum Game. Forty naturally cycling women were tested twice, once in the late follicular phase (around ovulation) and once during the luteal phase. Ovulation was determined using urine test strips measuring luteinizing hormone levels. Salivary samples were assayed for testosterone, estradiol, progesterone, and cortisol at both test sessions. There was no association with the cycle, but multilevel modeling revealed a significant within-participant association between testosterone and rejection rate for extremely unfair offers (i.e., high reactive aggression), indicating that women showed greater reactive aggression when their testosterone levels were higher. Additionally, we found that women with relatively high individual concentrations of testosterone were more likely to reject extremely unfair offers than women with relatively low concentrations of testosterone. This study is the first to demonstrate that women react more aggressively in response to provocation when their testosterone level is high than when their testosterone is low, suggesting that testosterone plays an important role in the regulation of women's aggressive behavior following social provocation.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Psychiatric University Hospital Zurich > Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Developmental and Educational Psychology
Social Sciences & Humanities > Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
Social Sciences & Humanities > General Psychology
Language:English
Date:July 2018
Deposited On:08 Mar 2019 07:40
Last Modified:29 Jul 2020 10:15
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:0096-140X
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1002/ab.21757
PubMed ID:29527708
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant IDPP00P1_139072
  • : Project TitleThe role of the human face in social interactions: Basic mechanisms and neurobiological underpinnings of social cognition

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