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date: 24 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Hierarchy, the relative ranking of individuals with respect to status or other social dimensions, is ubiquitous across human social groups. However, relatively little is known about the biological factors that may promote or inhibit mobility in status hierarchies. Prominent theoretic perspectives suggest that concentrations of testosterone in the bloodstream fluctuate dynamically in anticipation of and in response to social challenges, serving to promote behaviors aimed at gaining/maintaining status. This chapter reviews studies that have directly examined the extent to which endogenous, competition-induced surges in testosterone predicted subsequent competitiveness and aggressiveness. Studies suggest that testosterone surges promote competitiveness, but that this effect is complex and depends on several factors. More consistent was evidence that testosterone surges predicted subsequent aggressive behavior. Testosterone–behavior links were also specific to men, suggesting that surges in this hormone may serve different functions, or may promote alternative behavioral strategies for gaining and maintaining status, in women.

Keywords: dominance, aggression, testosterone, hierarchy, status

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