August 27, 2009
More Testosterone Cuts Attention To Family

A study of villagers in Senegal finds that men with more blood testosterone pay less attention to their wives and children.

No matter how many wives they had, fathers had lower testosterone levels than single men, on average, Alvergne and her colleagues found. Among fathers, those with more testosterone tended to invest less time in their wives and children. And polygynous men under the age of 50 produced more testosterone than monogamous men, on average.

Older men with more than one wife made less of the sex hormone than other men. While older men may make less testosterone, they typically enjoy more prestige in their villages, which could make it easier to find multiple wives, Alvergne suggests.

Makes sense. More masculine brains will be less interested in child-raising and more interested in spreading their seed.

Men looking for more wives (or illicit affairs in all likelihood) have higher testosterone.

In cultures where men aren't expected to be outstanding fathers and are constantly on the lookout for potential mates, testosterone levels tend to stay high, Ellison says

That is an interesting comment because getting married and having kids lowers male testosterone. The arrow of causation between testosterone and family life probably runs both ways. Family responsibilities lower testosterone. Cultures that do not demand as much family responsibilities from men probably do not cause as much of a testosterone drop in marriage. At the same time, higher testosterone probably makes men less likely to attend to family responsibilities.

While marriage lowers testosterone ovulating women are more attracted to dominant guys. Marriage turns a guy into less of what attracted his wife to him in the first place?

Share |      Randall Parker, 2009 August 27 10:21 PM  Brain Sexuality


Comments
jim2 said at August 28, 2009 6:49 AM:

The Gray and Ellison study to which the links point, per my read, appear to stop short of cause-effect conclusions, and more-or-less limit themselves to correlation. This is an important distinction, it would seem. That is, it leaves well open if it is that men with lower testosterone levels make the life choices, or if the life choices change the levels.

It would seem that before-and-after studies would help settle the matter, but the ones cited here (Senegal and Gray/Ellison) seem to use snapshots of men alrady in the various stages or life situations. That is, the study or studies looked at men who were parents (etc.) and men who were not, and compared them. Cause-and-effect conclusions would gain greater weight if the study tracked men and their levels as their life states changed, and then compared those levels with those of men of equivalent age/vigor/initial levels/etc. who did not make those same life changes.

There has been at least one study that measured before-and-after levels in men that is suggestive of a possible cause-and-effect relationship, however. I apologize but I do not recall its title or have a link to offer just now. However, the study measured the levels of men before and also after major sporting events. Post-event, those who won, or maybe even just their teams won, had higher levels than those who lost, or whose teams lost.

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