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Horm Behav. 2011 Aug;60(3):248-55. doi: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2011.05.007. Epub 2011 May 30.

Sociosexuality moderates the association between testosterone and relationship status in men and women.

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Department of Psychology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 49109, USA.


Single individuals typically have higher testosterone compared to those who are partnered, suggesting that individual differences in testosterone are associated with mating effort, or people's motivation to find a sexual partner. However, there is less consistent evidence for links between testosterone and sociosexuality, or people's orientation toward uncommitted sexual activity. Based on Penke and Asendorpf's (2008) conceptualization, we propose that a more nuanced measure of sociosexuality may reveal more robust associations with testosterone. In the current study, we assessed relations between three components of sociosexuality--desire, behavior, and attitudes--and endogenous testosterone levels in men and women. We found that partnered status was indeed associated with lower testosterone in both men and women, but only among those who reported more restricted sociosexuality. Partnered men who reported greater desire for uncommitted sexual activity had testosterone levels that were comparable to those of single men; partnered women who reported more frequent uncommitted sexual behavior had testosterone levels that were comparable to those of single women. These findings provide new evidence that people's orientations toward sexual relationships, in combination with their relationship status, are associated with individual differences in testosterone. The current results are also among the first to demonstrate sociosexuality-testosterone associations in both men and women, and they reveal that the nature of these associations varies by gender. Together, these findings highlight the utility of a multifaceted conceptualization of sociosexuality and the implications of this conceptualization for neuroendocrine processes.

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