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Soc Neurosci. 2013;8(3):240-7. doi: 10.1080/17470919.2013.772072. Epub 2013 Feb 21.

Testosterone/cortisol ratio in response to acute stress: a possible marker of risk for marital violence.

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  • 1Psychobiology Department, University of Valencia, Valencia, Spain.


Testosterone to cortisol (T/C) ratios could be associated with feelings and expression of anger as high testosterone and low cortisol levels indicate a predisposition to violence. The basal T/C ratio has recently been proposed as a marker for proneness to social aggression; so far, however, only its value as an indicator of state anger or violence has been investigated. Given this, we aimed to establish whether the T/C ratio response to acute stress was a specific psychobiological feature in individuals with a history of violence, namely, perpetrators of intimate partner violence (IPV). T/C ratio and anger responses were compared in men jailed for IPV and controls using the Trier Social Stress Test. IPV perpetrators had higher T/C ratios than controls, during the preparation period, and 15 and 30 minutes post-task. In IPV perpetrators, high T/C ratios were linked to better self-esteem and good mental health. An increase in anger may increase proneness to violence by altering hormones and, thereby, increasing T/C ratios. The basal T/C ratio together with acute stress responses and other indicators could serve as a marker to identify men at high risk of reacting violently to their partners.

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