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

Wed, 19 Jul 95 15:16:04 EDT

In article <> (Greg Stevens) writes:

>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
The behavioral pharmacology of the above is a bit oversimplified;
however, as an addendum...decreases in the neurotransmitter in the
brain lead to depression and an upregulation of the noadrenergic
receptors in most systems I'm familiar with. So I would not equate
calm with depression by the above scheme. It is interesting to
speculate on whether the "top dog" once it has attained this status
becomes depressed: no more fighting to get to the top, only fighting
to stay there?
Tim Shickley (