Research techniques have improved and are showing us some new sides of the hormone testosterone. This excerpt is part of the section that talks about some of those discoveries.
Excerpt: Helping Mothers be Closer to Their Sons, page 13-14
“For many years scientists have tried to solidify a connection between testosterone and aggression but have come up pretty much empty handed when it comes to trying to connect activational testosterone with aggression. They knew that when someone was aggressive their testosterone would rise but what they now suspect is that it was the aggression that was raising the testosterone, not the other way around. In other words, for years it was thought that testosterone was instrumental in causing aggression but now they are thinking it is the aggression that is raising the testosterone. In fact this latest thinking on testosterone helps us greatly in understanding the role of testosterone in the lives of boys and men.
What the scientists are beginning to believe is that testosterone is more about striving for status and then maintaining that status. In the words of one expert, Christoph Eisenegger, testosterone “increases an individual’s motivation and ability to acquire and defend social status.”11 This of course plays a large part in the social status hierarchies of boys and men. That is, who is on top who is second and who is last. It’s easy to see how winning confers status and testosterone encourages us to win contests and strive for status.
But how does testosterone do this? Researchers have now confirmed that testosterone not only pushes boys and men to win it does so with a variety of help along the way. They now know that testosterone decreases fear and increases risk taking. It is much easier to strive for status and to win when our fear is diminished and we are more willing to take risks. The fearful person is more likely to sit on the sidelines. The one more likely to take risks is the one we would expect to jump in.”