Dr. Robin Edelstein, Professor of Psychology

The Costs and Benefits of Testosterone in Close Relationship Contexts

In the media and popular culture, testosterone is often depicted as a hormone that is critical for seemingly “masculine” behaviors, such as competition, sexual prowess, and physical strength. Based on such characterizations, one might assume that testosterone only matters for men, and that, at least for men, the more testosterone the better. In actuality, however, the story is more complicated: First, testosterone is important for both men and women. Second, although there are certainly many benefits of high(er) testosterone, including for attracting and securing sexual partners, lower testosterone may in fact be more beneficial for maintaining close relationships—both with romantic partners and children. In this talk, I will present work from my lab on testosterone and relationship processes in romantic and parent-child relationships. Taken together, this work demonstrates that, in both men and women, testosterone declines as a function of partnering and parenting; lower testosterone facilitates ongoing nurturant relationship processes; and testosterone matters not only for one’s own relationship outcomes but also those of one’s partner.

Stream talk here.

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