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Neuroscience. 2015 Feb 12;286:171-86. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2014.11.029. Epub 2014 Nov 26.

Social neuroendocrinology of human aggression: examining the role of competition-induced testosterone dynamics.

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Department of Psychology, Nipissing University, North Bay, ON, Canada. Electronic address:
Department of Psychology, Nipissing University, North Bay, ON, Canada.


A large body of evidence indicates that individual differences in baseline concentrations of testosterone (T) are only weakly correlated with human aggression. Importantly, T concentrations are not static, but rather fluctuate rapidly in the context of competitive interactions, suggesting that acute fluctuations in T may be more relevant for our understanding of the neuroendocrine mechanisms underlying variability in human aggression. In this paper, we provide an overview of the literature on T and human competition, with a primary focus on the role of competition-induced T dynamics in the modulation of human aggression. In addition, we discuss potential neural mechanisms underlying the effect of T dynamics on human aggression. Finally, we highlight several challenges for the field of social neuroendocrinology and discuss areas of research that may enhance our understanding of the complex bi-directional relationship between T and human social behavior.


aggression; competition; social neuroendocrinology; testosterone

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