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date: 18 February 2019

Abstract and Keywords

During the past four decades, numerous reviews have been published on biological responses to stressful social environments. Reviews targeted for audiences in the social sciences emphasized biological outcomes while skipping over explanations of biological mechanisms. This chapter focuses on the details of the hormonal processes that “report” the state of the environment to the nervous system and regulate cognitive and motor responses to stressful social stimuli. Steroid hormones receive most attention. The chapter concludes with an outline of a sociological model of social action based on current knowledge of hormone actions. It shares some of the basic ideas of previous models such as affect control theory. However, the model proposes a broader role of stress hormones in human social behavior.

Keywords: social stressors, hormones, glucocorticoids, dopaminergic neurons, stress pathways

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