Psychol Sci. 2012 May 1;23(5):459-63. doi: 10.1177/0956797611433336. Epub 2012 Apr 3.
Testosterone affects gaze aversion from angry faces outside of conscious awareness.
Terburg D, Aarts H, van Honk J.
Department of Psychology, Utrecht University, The Netherlands. firstname.lastname@example.org
Throughout vertebrate phylogeny, testosterone has motivated animals to obtain and maintain social dominance-a fact suggesting that unconscious primordial brain mechanisms are involved in social dominance. In humans, however, the prevailing view is that the neocortex is in control of primordial drives, and testosterone is thought to promote social dominance via conscious feelings of superiority, indefatigability, strength, and anger. Here we show that testosterone administration in humans prolongs dominant staring into the eyes of threatening faces that are viewed outside of awareness, without affecting consciously experienced feelings. These findings reveal that testosterone motivates social dominance in humans in much the same ways that it does in other vertebrates: involuntarily, automatically, and unconsciously.
[PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]
Guns, Testosterone, and Aggression – An Experimental Test of a Mediational Hypothesis
Jennifer Klinesmith, Tim Kasser, and Francis T. McAndrew
We tested whether interacting with a gun increased testosterone levels and later aggressive behavior. Thirty male college students provided a saliva sample (for testosterone assay), interacted with either a gun or a children’s toy for 15min, and then provided another saliva sample. Next, subjects added as much hot sauce as they
wanted to a cup of water they believed another subject would have to drink. Males who interacted with the gun showed significantly greater increases in testosterone and added more hot sauce to the water than did those who interacted with the children’s toy. Moreover, increases in testosterone partially mediated the effects of interacting with the gun on this aggressive behavior.