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Proc Biol Sci. 2006 Feb 7;273(1584):333-9.

Fathers have lower salivary testosterone levels than unmarried men and married non-fathers in Beijing, China.

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Department of Biochemistry, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA.


A growing body of evidence, almost entirely from North America, has found that male testosterone levels are positively associated with mating effort (male-male competition and mate-seeking behaviour), while lower testosterone levels have been associated with affiliative pair bonding and paternal care. To expand the cross-cultural scope of this research, here we investigate variation in salivary testosterone levels among Chinese men in relation to marital and parenting variables. One hundred and twenty-six men drawn from a Beijing university setting between the ages of 21 and 38 completed a questionnaire and provided both morning and late afternoon saliva samples from which testosterone levels were measured. The 66 unmarried men had slightly higher levels of testosterone than the 30 married non-fathers, but this difference was not statistically significant. However, the 30 fathers exhibited significantly lower testosterone levels than both unmarried men and married non-fathers. Among married non-fathers, marital relationship quality was not significantly related to testosterone levels. Among married fathers, men with children aged less than 4 years of age did not have lower testosterone levels than men with older children. These data are the first outside of North America to show lower testosterone levels among fathers, and lend support to the theoretical view that male testosterone levels differ according to mating and parenting effort.

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