Re: Evolution, aggression, and men: Hormones matter?

Greg Stevens (
Wed, 19 Jul 95 15:18:24 GMT

In <3uh7b7$> (Bryant) writes:
>Greg Stevens <> wrote:

>>irritability. But here cause and effect is interestingly tangled.
>>If increasing testosterone has the effect of inhibiting noradrenergic
>>activity, and dominance increases testosterone, then it could be that
>>rather than the perspective "noradrenergic activity leads to aggression"
>>it may be more informative to say "noradrenergic activity leads to
>>the desire to be calmed, and one channel for this is via dominance leading
>>to testosterone-induced inhibition of noradrenergic activity."

>If dominance is a given once obtained, this makes sense. If, however,
>dominance is challenged often, achieving it is not a good technique of
>soothing one's nerves.

Well, societies develop into established status-heirarchies, and in
primates of all kinds (humans included) status seems to be correlated
with both inversely to some degree with noradrenergic activity and
directly to some degree with testosterone. It can be hypothesized that
the stability of such heirarchies would be reinforced through feedback --
successful dominance -> testosterone increase -> noradrenergic decrease ->
calm & confidence -> higher probability of successful dominance.
This, plus social reinforcers of status. Thus, in a somewhat stable
heirarchy, an individual may be observed to "pick on" members of lower
status while NOT using this mechanism against members of higher status.
This preferencial-picking-on has been observed.

Greg Stevens