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date: 20 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter reviews literature having to do with the social-behavioral neuroendocrinology of competition, dominance, and status hierarchies in humans. After defining these terms, their importance, and everyday relevance, the chapter discusses the major research findings that suggest a bidirectional influence between these social behaviors and the steroid hormones cortisol and testosterone. Specifically, the association between cortisol and social rank and cortisol’s reactivity to social challenges are discussed. Further, this chapter discusses research that tests the predictions that basal testosterone is related to status-motivated behavior, that testosterone levels are transiently altered during contests for status, and that these changes function to promote subsequent status-seeking behavior. Noting the nuance of these findings, the personality and context factors that appear to moderate testosterone–status relationships are highlighted. Finally, this chapter includes both a new theoretical model for the testosterone–social status relationship that captures this complexity and, in closing, summarizes promising areas of future research.

Keywords: competition, dominance, status, social hierarchy, testosterone, cortisol, dual-hormone hypothesis

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