Testosterone gets a bad rep. People assume that if one has higher testosterone than average, that they will be a savage, bloodthirsty beast with an insatiable thirst for blood. This, however, is not the case. I’ve documented how testosterone is vital for male functioning, and how higher levels don’t lead to maladies such as prostate cancer. Testosterone is feared for no reason at all. The reason that people are scared of it is that of the anecdotal reports that individual A had higher testosterone when he committed crime B so, therefore, anyone who commits a crime has higher testosterone and that is the ultimate—not proximate—cause of crime. This is erroneous. There is a positive—albeit extremely low—correlation between physical aggression and violence at .14. That’s it. Furthermore, most of these claims of higher levels of testosterone causing violence is extrapolated from animal studies to humans.
Testosterone has been shown to lead to violent and aggressive behavior, largely only in animal studies (Archer, 1991; Book et al, 2001). For years, the relationship between the two variables was thought to be causal, i.e., high levels of testosterone cause violent crimes, which has been called into question over recent years. This is due to how the environment can raise testosterone levels. I have documented how these environmental factors can raise testosterone—and after these events, testosterone stays elevated.
Largely, animal studies are used to infer that high levels of testosterone in and of themselves lead to higher rates of aggression and therefore crime. However, two important meta-analyses show this is not necessarily the case (Archer, 1991; Book et al, 2001). Book et al, 2001 showed that two variables were important in seeing the relationship between aggression and crime—the time of day that the assay was taken and the age of the participant. This effect was seen to be largest in, not unexpectedly, males aged 13-20 (Book et al, 2001: 594). So since age confounds the relationship between aggression and testosterone in males, that is a variable that must also be controlled for (which, in the meta-analyses and other papers I cite on black and white testosterone is controlled for).
More interestingly, Book et al (2001) showed that the nature of the measure of aggression (self-reported or behavioral) did not have any effect on the relationship between testosterone and aggression. Since there is no difference between the two measures, then a pencil-and-paper test is a good enough index of measure of aggression, comparable to observing the behavior of the individual studied.
Archer (1991) also showed the same low—but positive—correlations between aggression and testosterone. Of course, as I’ve extensively documented since there is a positive relationship between the two variables does not necessarily mean that high-testosterone men commit more crime—since the outcome of certain situations can increase and decrease testosterone, no causal factors have been detangled. Book et al (2001) confirmed Archer’s (1991) finding that the correlation between violent and aggressive behavior was positive and low at .14.
Valois et al (2017) showed there was a relationship between emotional self-efficacy (ESE) and aggressive and violent behaviors in a statewide sample of high school children in South Carolina (n=3,386). Their results suggested that there was a relationship between carrying a weapon to school within the past 30 days along with being injured with a club, knife or gun in the past 12 months was significantly associated with ESE for specific race and sex groups.
Black girls who reported a low ESE reported carrying a weapon to school 30 days prior to the survey were 3.22 times more than black girls with a high ESE who did not report carrying a weapon to school within the past 30 days prior to the questionnaire. For black boys with low ESE, they were 3.07 times more likely to carry a weapon to school within the past 30 days in comparison to black boys with high ESE who did not carry a weapon to school in the past 30 days. White girls who reported low ESE had the highest chance of bringing a weapon to school in comparison to white girls with low ESE—they were 5.87 times more likely to carry a weapon to school 30 days prior to the survey. Finally, white boys with low ESE were slightly more than 2 times more likely than white boys with high ESE to carry a weapon to school 30 days prior to the survey.
Low ESE in white and black girls is associated with carrying a weapon to school, whereas low ESE for white and black boys is associated with being threatened. Further, their results suggested that carrying a weapon to school was associated with low ESE in black and white girls suggesting that low ESE is both situation-specific and specific to the female sex. The mediator between these things is low ESE—it is different for both black boys and black girls, and when it occurs different courses of action are taken, whether it’s through bringing a weapon to school or being threatened. What this tells me is that black and white boys with low ESE are more likely to be threatened because they are perceived to be more meek, while black and white girls with low ESE that get provoked at school are more likely to bring weapons. So it seems that girls bring weapons when provoked and boys fight.
The two meta-analyses reviewed above show that there is a low positive (.14) correlation between testosterone and aggression (Archer, 1991; Book et al, 2001). Thusly, high levels of testosterone on their own are not sufficient enough to explain high levels of aggression/violence. Further, there are race- and sex-specific differences when one is threatened at high school with black and white boys being more likely to report being threatened more (which implies a higher rate of physical fighting) while black and white girls when threatened brought weapons to school. These race- and sex-specific differences in the course of action taken when they are physically threatened needs to be looked into more.
I’d like to see the difference in testosterone levels for a matched sample of black and white boys from two neighboring districts with different murder rates as a proxy for the amount of violence in the area. I’d bet that the places with a higher murder rate would have children 1) report more violence and instances of bringing weapons to school and 2) report more harm from these encounters—especially if they have low ESE as seen in Valois (2017) and 3) the children in the high schools along with the residents of the area would have higher testosterone than the place with less violence. I would expect these differences to be magnified in the direction of Valois (2017) in that areas with higher murder rates would have black and white girls report bringing weapons to school when threatened whereas black and white boys would report more physical violence.
High testosterone itself is not sufficient enough to explain violence as the correlation is extremely low at .14. Testosterone levels fluctuate depending on the time of day (Brambilla et al, 2009; Long, Nguyen, and Stevermer, 2015) to the time of year (Stanton, Mullette-Gillman, and Huettel, 2011; Demur, Uslu, and Arslun, 2016). How the genders/races react differently when threatened in adolescence is interesting and deserves further study.
I bet that “testosterone -> violence” idea is popular because it feeds into feminist ideas of “toxic masculinity.” If masculinity is a bad thing, why not psychologically neuter every man in your society?
“If masculinity is a bad thing, why not psychologically neuter every man in your society?”
That’s the plan in process.
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Certainly it’s being done to Western men.
It wouldn’t only be a psychological neutering, it’d lead to castration as well. Testosterone is strongly related to competition, dominance, and conflict. It also raises by changing your posture and “power posing” as well. So if testosterone levels were to fall then those variables would fall too.
Of course that is the plan. A father population has lower testosterone. Though that’s going to start leveling off soon, except there are other factors lowering testosterone.
Nah, the idea has clearly been around longer than modern feminism. Also feminists don’t believe in sex differences in anything.
The idea’s certainly been around, but since when did it have such widespread use to determine the causality of so many different things?
A lot of feminists believe in sex differences as long as these purported differences involve men being inferior according to some deconstructionist canard.
Scott, of course people throw their beliefs in the trash when it benefits an ideology they push. It’s only human nature to be biased in that regard.
Thomas, feminists do deny that there are biological differences between the sexes, but we know there are, but you are correct that the idea of male demasculinization has been around longer than the past 50 years.
Here is some factual context to refute the arguments in the arguement. I am not an expert and have not yet had an opportunity to conduct my own research and fact checking on this topic, but there is much in the assertions in the blog post that seem fishy to me.
And by the way, I am genetically female. One of my main interests and areas of expertise is medicine, both traditional and naturopathic.
Here’s what I know for sure:
Firstly, testosterone is a tremendously important hormone. Females produce it, too, albeit in much smaller quantities. The presence of free testosterone in the blood of men and women contributes greatly to stamina, vitality, muscle and bone density, and in women serves as one of the critically vital balancing hirmones, protecting the heart against high blood pressure, stroke and uterine and breast cancers. In men, it is the overproduction of estrogens and estrogen analogues out of balance with healthy levels of testosterone which is the primary contributing factor to a host of cancers, including bowel and prostate cancers.
In our environment right now, we are swimming in a sea of xenoestrogens. These are toxic man-made chemical residues we are exposed to in our water, food, air and homes in the form of off gassing from cleaning products, toiletries and furnishings and paints and other solvents.
Xenoestrogens are thousands of times more powerful than natural estrogens (which men need, too, and of which men will produce a small natural component, similar in proportion to the balance of women and testosterone.)
They attach themselves to receptor sites for estrogens and wreak havoc in our bodies, creating low sperm counts and motility, and setting the stage for stroke heart disease, obesity, gynecomastia (bitch tit in common parlance) and yes, testicular and prostate cancers.
High testosterone, in fine, is never responsible for these cancers (it can and does contribute significantly to liver cancer). Well, so far as I understand the complex nature of endocrinological hormonal profiles in humans.
However, to state that testosterone is not at cause in aggression is to ignore history, practice and the evidence of our own eyes and experience. We have all heard of ‘roid rage and many stark examples of this abound in the annals of sports.
Moreover, for millennia, men have gelded and neutered their domesticated animals because to do otherwise is to invite violence into the stability of the home and barnyard. Cats will fight and mate uncontrollably, dogs will bite and become difficult to control, and steers who are not gelded are called Bulls, and are dangerous and aggressive.
And, disturbingly, for over a thousand years, the slave trade in Africa and the Middle East was dominated by Arab (Muslim) traders who systematically castrated millions of Africans -those who would not convert to Islam – before selling them into bondage.
In modern times, chemical and physical castration is associated with an improvement in recididavism rates for repeat violent sex offenders of approximately 50%.
In addition to this evidence, allow me offer up one final fact. In later life we all see precipitous drops in all hormonal levels. It is then we see the prevalence of Breast and uterine cancers in women and testicular and prostate cancers is men. It is unbalanced testosterone in opposition to increased estrogens which account for both cancers and also account for marked levels of increased docility in long-term, aging inmate populations on our correctional system among perpetrators of violent crime.
All of this leads to the conclusion that voluntary castration of prisoners in exchange for reduced sentences is a creditable and viable option. It may be odious to our sensibilities, but facts, gentleman, give not a feather or a fig for your delicate scruples.
We can publish blog posts, opinion papers and fudge statistics all we like, but these conclusions seem logical and indeed inevitable, to me. I advocate for generously compensating violent criminals’ families for volunteers for this program and preserving the physical characteristic of the physiology to avoid embarrassment, putting in prosthetics and preserving the ball sack. Castration done medically is a minor outpatient procedure with minimal risk. Many unwanted children who are aborted or abandoned every year and from whence the criminal element is drawn in large proportion, will also never be born.
feel free to fact check all of this and many apologies for being disorganized and not just including all the studies and proofs on a website! I promise I will do that someday soon…
I totally agree with you…Castration is a small cost to pay for mankind with very low effect on man and wild benefits to women, children and society in general….Castration, as circnoncision, should be mandatory for every man on this planet and I can’t wit for the day this becomes a reality !
If you want to share you view on the subject and perhaps start a movement to promote this great solution, please feel free to write to me !
Oops, there is a huge typo in the first sentence…if you review this, can you please fix it? thanks!
RR what do you think of this study?
My thoughts are here.
Does Testosterone Affect Human Cognition and Decision-Making?
It’s important to note thwt exogenous testosterone gel isn’t exogenous testosterone (obviously, and that does matter).
Doesn’t change the fact that the correlation between testosterone and aggression is .08.
Why Testosterone Does Not Cause Crime
Its pretty conclusive. Testosterone doesn’t cause crime. Single explanations for crime, like MAOA, are dumb. Especially testosterone. Needs to be put to bed for good. Not true.
“The study has a good design and I hope it gets explored more.”
Answers my question.
While MAOA maybe simplistic, serotonin reception in general is a better place to look for in regards to hormones and crime.
I have found alleles, outside of MAOA variant, being found to have a more consistent and higher correlation range than studies on testosterone has.
Click to access Candidate-Genes-for-Aggression-and-Antisocial-Behavior-A-Meta-analysis-of-Association-Studies-of-the-5HTTLPR-and-MAOA-uVNTR.pdf
Search around Ncbi and you will find alot more recent and consistent research on aggression and serotonin.
[…] testosterone (testosterone produced in the body) is correlated with physical aggression. However, I’ve shown that this is not true. They conclude overall the exogenous testosterone is related to an increase in irrational thinking […]