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Biol Psychiatry. 2004 Mar 1;55(5):546-52.

Testosterone, antisocial behavior, and social dominance in boys: pubertal development and biosocial interaction.

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Medical Research Council Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre (RR, BM), Institute of Psychiatry, London, United Kingdom.



Studies linking testosterone and antisocial behavior in humans have produced mixed results. Adolescence offers a promising period to study this relationship; circulating testosterone increases dramatically in boys during puberty, and antisocial behavior increases during the same period.


Our analyses were based on boys aged 9-15 years who were interviewed during the first three waves of the Great Smoky Mountains Study. Measures included interview assessment of DSM-IV conduct disorder (CD) symptoms and diagnosis, blood spot measurement of testosterone, Tanner staging of pubertal development, and assessment of leadership behaviors and peer deviance.


The adolescent rise in CD was primarily attributable to an increase in nonphysically aggressive behaviors. Increasing levels of circulating testosterone and association with deviant peers contributed to these age trends. There was no evidence that physical aggression was related to high testosterone. Evidence of biosocial interactions was identified; testosterone was related to nonaggressive CD symptoms in boys with deviant peers and to leadership in boys with nondeviant peers.


The results are consistent with the hypothesis that testosterone relates to social dominance, with the assumption that behaviors associated with dominance differ according to social context.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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