Testosterone – Evil? Or a Social enhancer?

So reading on the internet suggests two things.  One that Testosterone leads to aggression or does not lead to aggression.  Science is such an exact umm well err science…  So let’s take a look at how this comes about.

First study done was done on women and lead to the conclusion that it increased aggression in men. Not sure I follow.  But let’s see where this leads us.  Down the path of assumption and myth.

In this paper: Elsevier. “Testosterone in healthy men increases their brains’ response to threat.”

ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 August 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140811124630.htm>. right in the first paragraph the author states.  “Testosterone, a steroid hormone, is well known to contribute to aggressive behavior in males, but the neural circuits through which testosterone exerts these effects have not been clear.”  So without any citation at all, the author here states that it contributes to aggressive behavior.

Now same website…  Different author.

University of Zurich. “Testosterone does not induce aggression, study shows.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 December 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091208132241.htm>.

Here the issue.

When you actually read the whole first paper, it doesn’t say the observed aggressive behavior in the subjects, just that their brains reacted faster.  Faster to what you might as, faster to an aggressive looking face.  The second paper states that testosterone seems to help the brain function better in social situations.  Enhancing it’s ability to assess the situation faster and better.  That there is no evolutionary pressure to attack first and ask questions later, that actually the ability to work things out quicker is the win.

So what can we believe here?  I don’t know anything for a fact.  But I do know that the first author brought their own preconceived ideas and prejudice to the table when writing their paper.  No where does the experiment that they were running prove aggression, just that your brain reacts faster to social situations and gets on alert faster when testosterone is present.  Big leap to make in a conclusion based on the facts of the paper, that don’t support that conclusion.

Here’s something that is more in line with the results from that paper.  For your reading pleasure..

Association for Psychological Science. “Testosterone promotes reciprocity in the absence of competition.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 September 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130930113955.htm>.

Here are a few links:

http://www.doctoroz.com/article/truth-about-testosterone

http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/bb/neuro/neuro04/web1/cs.html

http://www.nature.com/scitable/blog/cognoculture/testosterone_and_human_aggression_or_180520

 

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