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Testosterone and Reconciliation Among Women: After-Competition Testosterone Predicts Prosocial Attitudes Towards Opponents


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Higher levels of testosterone (T) are thought to promote aggressive and/or antisocial behavior as a means of achieving or maintaining social status. However, recent research has begun to explore the association between T and more prosocial behaviors relevant to social status. Reconciliation after conflict is a prosocial behavior that has become ritualized in sporting contexts. T and cortisol (C) increase in association with athletic competition, but the relationship between these hormones and the willingness to reconcile with one’s opponent after athletic competition has never been tested. Members of a women’s soccer team gave saliva samples associated with two intercollegiate competitions, one victory and one defeat. Samples were subsequently assayed for T and C. Before giving the final saliva sample after each match, participants completed a questionnaire designed to measure willingness to reconcile with a recent opponent – the Attitudes Towards Opponents (ATO) questionnaire. T and C levels increased during competition, but decreased in the 30-min period after the end of play. ATO scores were higher, on average, after the win compared to the loss. ATO scores showed a strong positive correlation with after-game changes in T level in both matches. Win or lose, women whose T remained relatively high after the end of the match were more willing to reconcile with their opponent than women whose T levels declined more precipitously. There were no relationships between C and ATO scores. At least in women, T may motivate after-competition behaviors that promote status through social cohesion rather than overt aggression or dominance.
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Testosterone and Reconciliation Among Women:
After-Competition Testosterone Predicts Prosocial
Attitudes Towards Opponents
Kathleen V. Casto
&David A. Edwards
Received: 16 August 2015 /Revised: 20 October 2015 /Accepted: 22 October 2015
#Springer International Publishing 2015
Abstract Higher levels of testosterone (T) are thought to promote aggressive and/or
antisocial behavior as a means of achieving or maintaining social status. However,
recent research has begun to explore the association between T and more prosocial
behaviors relevant to social status. Reconciliation after conflict is a prosocial behavior
that has become ritualized in sporting contexts. T and cortisol (C) increase in associ-
ation with athletic competition, but the relationship between these hormones and the
willingness to reconcile with ones opponent after athletic competition has never been
tested. Members of a womens soccer team gave saliva samples associated with two
intercollegiate competitions, one victory and one defeat. Samples were subsequently
assayed for Tand C. Before giving the final saliva sample after each match, participants
completed a questionnaire designed to measure willingness to reconcile with a recent
opponent the Attitudes Towards Opponents (ATO) questionnaire. T and C levels
increased during competition, but decreased in the 30-min period after the end of play.
ATO scores were higher, on average, after the win compared to the loss. ATO scores
showed a strong positive correlation with after-game changes in T level in both
matches. Win or lose, women whose T remained relatively high after the end of
the match were more willing to reconcile with their opponent than women
whose T levels declined more precipitously. There were no relationships be-
tween C and ATO scores. At least in women, T may motivate after-
competition behaviors that promote status through social cohesion rather than overt
aggression or dominance.
Keywords Test oster one .Cortisol .Reconciliation .Prosocial .Competition .
Sportsmanship .Athletes
Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology
DOI 10.1007/s40750-015-0037-1
*Kathleen V. Casto
Department of Psychology, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA
Having social status, power, or dominance over others increases an individualsaccess
to limited resources and, thus, has noted survival advantages (for review, Cheng et al.
2013;Hamiltonetal.2015). Individuals seeking dominance may do so through various
forms of aggression (e.g., Buss and Shackelford 1997;Coieetal.1982; Vaillancourt
and Hymel 2006). However, there are multiple ways other than aggression by which
individuals achieve and maintain social status and power including those that may seem
prosocial in nature (Cheng et al. 2013; Hawley 1999). Anderson and Kilduff (2009), in
review of research on the strategies for status attainment in social groups among
humans, highlight the role of making social connections and being cooperative.
Specifically, individuals gain status by enhancing their value in the eyes of fellow
group members that is, by acting in ways that signal task competence, generosity, and
commitment(p.296). Good leaders who possess abundant social influence are often
individuals that are well liked (Hogg 2005) and develop positive relationships by being
sensitive, responsive, and caringtowards their followers (Popper 2005, p.47).
Accordingly, prosocial behavior may serve as an important pathway to power.
Testosterone (T), a steroid hormone produced in men and in lesser amounts in
women, has been linked to social status, implicit power motivation, and behaviors in
which social status is contested being higher in high-status or power-motivated
individuals and increasing in response to some laboratory social competitions in winners
(for review, Archer 2006; Eisenegger et al. 2011; Hamilton et al. 2015; Mazur and
Booth 1998; Stanton and Schultheiss 2009). T also increases substantially over the
course of athletic competition seemingly independent of match outcome (e.g.,
Bateup et al. 2002; Casto et al. 2014; Edwards et al. 2006; Edwards and Kurlander
2010; Gonzalez-Bono et al. 1999; Hamilton et al. 2009;Suayetal.1999,butsee
Jiménez et al. 2012). Cortisol (C), a steroid hormone related to physiological and
psychological stress, may be inversely related to social status (for review, Hamilton
2015) and increase in response to losing a dominance contest in power-motivated
individuals (Wirth et al. 2006). But, C has been shown to increase significantly
during athletic competition independent of match outcome (e.g., Bateup et al. 2002;
Casto et al. 2014; Edwards et al. 2006; Edwards and Kurlander 2010; Filaire et al.
2009; Gonzalez-Bono et al. 1999). Relatively high levels of C appear to reduce or
eliminate the relationship between T and dominance/status seeking behavior in
experimental settings (Mehta and Josephs 2010) and T and status relationships
among teammates in women athletes (Edwards and Casto 2013). Relatively high
baseline C levels also appear to reduce T reactivity to athletic competition (Edwards
and Casto 2015) and social stress (Bedgood et al. 2014).Thus,bothTandCmaybe
relevant to status-seeking and/or competitive behavior.
Although there are multiple strategies to achieving and maintaining social status, T
is perhaps best known for its relationship with aggressive forms of status-seeking
(behavior directed towards another with the intent to cause harm; for reviews, see
Archer 2006;Booketal.2001; Carré and Olmstead 2015). However, high levels of T
are also associated with high implicit power/dominance motivation and social status in
men and (sometimes) in women in the absence of overt aggression (for review,
Eisenegger et al. 2011; Stanton and Schultheiss 2009). Recent research has
begun to explore the relationship between T and prosocial behaviors that may
Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology
facilitate social status. Edwards et al. (2006) found that among women athletes,
pre-competition levels of T were positivelycorrelatedtoaself-reportmeasure
social-group connectedness among teammates. That social cohesion has benefits for
status is consistent with the fact that individual differences in social-group connected-
ness were also positively related to playersranking of leadership abilities by teammates.
In an experimental study of prosocial behavior, Eisenegger et al. (2010) gave a single
large dose of T to women and asked them to play the ultimatum bargaining game a
laboratory task in which a participant, in the role of proposer, decides how money units
should be allocated between herself and a responder who can accept or reject the offer.
Participants who were given T made significantly more fair/generous offers than those
who were given a placebo. Thus, at least for women, T may preserve status by
motivating choices designed to prevent social affront (Eisenegger et al. 2010,
p.358).However,Boksemetal.(2013) showed that in a similar game of trust,
women participants who were given a large dose of T and acting as an investorgave
significantly less money to an anonymous partner, the trustee, who would decide how
much of that investment, tripled, to return. But, when subsequently acting as the trustee,
participants who were given the dose of T returned significantly more to the investor
when entrusted with a generous offer a sign of reciprocity. T administration has also
been found to increase cooperative behavior in women (only if the second-to-fourth
right hand digit ratio indicated low levels of prenatal T exposure; van Honk et al. 2012).
Taken together, these studies suggest that, at least in certain contexts, T influences
prosocial behavior in women. For men, although some studies have found a link
between T administration and behaviors such as reduced lying (Wibral et al. 2012),
there is less empirical evidence to support a hypothesized relationship between T and
prosocial behavior (e.g., Dabbs and Morris 1990).
Reconciliation, a prosocial post-conflict behavior, is defined as a friendly reunion of
former opponents not long after confrontation has occurred (Aureli et al. 2002; de Waal
2000). Reconciliation acknowledges the end of conflict and facilitates the repair of
social relationships with a recent adversary (Dovidio et al. 2010). In various non-human
socially cohesive primate species, reconciliation after a contest between two or more
individuals is common (Aureli et al. 2002) and important for decreasing social tension,
preventing future aggressive encounters, and repairing relationships (e.g., Aureli and
van Schaik 1991; de Waal 1986; Silk 2002). In one of the few laboratory studies of
reconciliation in humans (McCullough et al. 2014), conciliatory gestures increased
forgiveness and reduced post-conflict anger and exploitation risk towards a transgres-
sor, provided the relationship with a transgressor was valued. Because reconciliation
behaviors reduce the likelihood of post-conflict social reprisals, they may also function
more broadly to elevate or maintain social status, but this hypothesis has not been tested
empirically. It has, however, been noted in observations of non-human primates that the
initiation of post-conflict reconciliation is more common in high status individuals than
lower status individuals (de Waal 1984). As indicated in McCullough et al. (2014), the
functional and proximate bases for peacemaking and reconciliation in humanshave
been both understudied and under theorized (p. 11,216).
Athletic competition is a formalized physical and psychological contest to gain
status over an opponent. But, ritualized reconciliation behaviors in the form of shaking
or slapping hands after sports competitions are intended to foster sportsmanship, that is,
fairness, respect, and graciousness in winning and losing, particularly in behaviors
Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology
towards an opponent. T and C increase substantially over the course of competition and
then begin to decline immediately afterwards (e.g., Casto and Edwards 2015;Elias
1981). But the relationship between these changes and after-competition attitudes
towards reconciliation has never been tested. The present study was designed to
examine the relationship, if any, between basal and dynamic levels of T and C and
athleteswillingness to reconcile with an opponent after competition. The Attitudes
Towards Opponents (ATO) questionnaire was specially designed to measure a partic-
ipants attitudes regarding reconciliation with a recent opponent following an athletic
competition. T and C levels from saliva samples obtained at pre-warm-up baseline, after
warm-up, immediately after competition, and 30 min after each of two intercollegiate
soccer matches were analyzed in relation to women athletes after-competition re-
sponses to the ATO. In contrast to other studies involving the exogenous administration
of T and contrived experimental circumstances, in this study, we explore the relation-
ship between prosocial attitudes and endogenous levels of T and C during and after a
naturalistic competition a setting in which women are highly motivated for the social
reward of gaining status over their opponent, i.e., winning.
Participants for the study were the twenty-five consenting members (age 1822) of the
2013 Emory University varsity womens soccer team. This research was approved by
Emorys Institutional Review Board and athletes gave written informed consent prior to
participation. As part of the consent procedure women were asked to respond yesor
noto the question Are you currently using an oral contraceptive?andtooneother:
Are you currently using any injected, implanted, or patch-delivered hormone contracep-
game and 15 in the second game. Because athletes who play have markedly different after-
competition levels of T and C than those who never enter the match in this study (Casto
and Edwards 2015) and in previous studies (e.g., Edwards et al. 2006), only data for
women who played were used in analyses involving hormone values other than baseline.
Saliva Samples and Hormone Assays
As a part of a larger study (Casto and Edwards 2015), participants gave four samples in
association with each of two intra-conference NCAA soccer competitions, one week
apart. For each match, participants gave a saliva sample 1015 min before the start of
an hour-long warm-up, another sample immediately after warm-up (a few minutes
before the start of the match), a third sample immediately after match completion, and a
final sample 30 min later. Participants were provided with a piece of sugar-free gum
(Trident®, original flavor) to stimulate saliva production and they gave whole saliva
samples by drool exactly according to the protocol used for athletes in other sports
(e.g., Edwards and Casto 2013). Although the use of chewing gum to stimulate
salivation and speed collection of saliva samples is common, this practice has been
recently questioned in reports that some brands and flavors of chewing gum may distort
Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology
salivary T levels relative to unstimulated samples (van Anders 2010). In the present
study, all participants chewed Trident® original flavor gum, not tested in the van
Anders (2010) study. Provided individuals chew for more than one minute before they
begin to deliver the sample, this particular gum does not appear to affect salivary T
level relative to what is assayed from unstimulated samples (Dabbs 1991; Granger et al.
2004). All saliva samples were collected between 1 and 5 PM, with both matches
beginning around 2:30 PM.
Samples were chilled on ice after collection and then stored at 80 °C within the
hour. Samples were assayed in duplicate for T and C on a single thaw by the
Biomarkers Core laboratory of the Yerkes Primate Center (Atlanta, GA) using com-
petitive enzyme immunoassay kits from Salimetrics (State College, PA). The average
intra-assay CV percents for T and C were 6.1 % and 7.2 %, respectively. The average
inter-assay CV percents for T and C were 8.1 % and 6.26 %, respectively.
Attitudes Towards Opponents
Consenting participants completed the ATO questionnaire approximately 20 min after
the end of each competition, immediately before giving their 30-min-after-competition
sample. The questionnaire consisted of 11 items (Table 1) on a 5-point Likert scale
(1 = Strongly Disagree,5=Strongly Agree) designed to measure an athletes
willingness to reconcile with her recent opponent. Items phrased in the negative (items
4 and 9) were reverse scored before analysis. The internal consistency coefficient
(Cronbachs alpha) for the total scale was 0.87. In general, participants responded
systematically higher to 3 items, 3, 6, and 9 (M=3.6,SD = 0.01) that appear to relate
more to the desire to be perceived as a good sport, than the rest of the items (M=2.33,
SD = 0.21). However, removal of these three items reduced internal consistency
to 0.82. For the purpose of analysis, participantstotal mean scores on the ATO
were used. As there are no pre-existing measures of after-competition attitudes
Tab l e 1 The attitudes towards opponents questionnaire
Please rate your agreement with the following statements based on how you feel right now, not how you would
think or feel in general
1. If given the opportunity, I would apologize to a member of the other team for any rough or foul play that
I committed toward her during the match.
2. I think the other team should be congratulated for their efforts.
3. I was more than willing to shake/slap hands with the members of the other team after the match.
4. I have no desire to make amends with a member or members of the other team. (reverse scored)
5. If confronted with members of the other team at a restaurant later this evening, I would be willing to initiate
friendly conversation.
6. I want members of the other team to think I am a good sport.
7. Now that the competition is over, members of the two teams should be able to make friends.
8. I would be willing to tell my opponent that she played well.
9. I had no desire to shake hands with members of the other team after the game (If I did, it was only because
I had to). (reverse scored)
10. Despite what happened on the playing field, I would be willing to reconcile (make peace) with members
of the other team.
11. I have no hard feelings towards the other team.
Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology
towards reconciliation, these items were developed through qualitative interviews with
athletes and selected based on face-validity. Distribution of this measure to a larger
sample of 39 women after participating in intramural sporting events resulted in an
overall mean score of 4.22/5 (SE = 0.08), significantly higher (i.e., more willing to
reconcile) than athletes competing against rival opponents in the present study.
The first of the two matches was played at the participantshome field against
Washington University and the second game was played away from home against the
University of Chicago. The home match was a narrow 01 loss with the one goal scored
by the opponents in the 15th minute of the first half. The away match was a narrow 20
victory, with the first of two goals scored in the 51st minute of play and the second goal,
to secure the win, scored in the final minute of play (89th minute). Both opponents were
intra-conference rivals and ranked, along with Emory, in the top 25 NCAA (Division III)
teams nationally. Playing at home versus away from home did not appear to influence T
and C responses to competition in these athletes (Casto and Edwards 2015).
Statistical Analyses, Hormone Measures, and Transformations
The SPSS statistical package was used for calculation of a repeated-measures t-test (two-
was won. Correlation coefficients (r) were calculated to test the relationship between ATO
score and absolute levels of T and C as well as the percent change in T and C associated
with the period of competition and the 30 min period after competition. Relative (percent
change) instead of absolute change was used as the primary metric of change because the
levels of T and C before and after-competition are influenced by psychologically relevant
preceding events (warm-up and competition, respectively, Casto and Edwards 2015).
However, some studies use absolute difference to measure hormone change (e.g. Mehta
and Josephs 2006). In keeping with this, data for absolute change are included.
Across all participants, baseline T, but not C, levels were normally distributed. For
participants included in analyses involving competition and after-competition T and C levels
(those who played in each match), data for the change in C after competition for the first
match and change in T after competition for the second match were positively skewed. Natural
log-transformations were used to normalize the distributions for these hormone measures. In
all cases, analysis of transformed data produced the same overall results as analysis of the
raw data. Due to the number of correlations conducted, where appropriate, significance
was determined after controlling for false discovery rate (Benjamini and Hochberg 1995).
T and C Change Associated with Competition and the 30 minutes After
Means and standard deviations for T and C associated with each match are
shown in Table 2. As reported elsewhere (Casto and Edwards 2015), T and C
Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology
levels in these athletes significantly increased over the course of warm-up and
competition in both games (Table 3). Within the 30 minutes after competition,
T levels decreased following both matches, but the decrease was significantly
(Table 3). However, because the game that was lost was played at home and
the game that was won was played away from home, effects due to winning
and losing may be confounded with any competition or after-competition effects
of venue. C levels remained relatively high for at least 30 minutes after both
matches, but decreased more after the match that was won compared to match
that was lost (Table 3). T and C changes associated with the competition and
after-competition periods were not different for OC users compared to non-
Tab l e 2 Descriptive statistics
Testosterone (pg/ml) Cortisol (μg/dl)
Game 1 (Loss) Game 2 (Win) Game 1 (Loss) Game 2 (Win)
Neutral-day Baseline 52.7 (14.1) 51.5 (14.6) 0.27 (0.14) 0.27 (0.15)
Before Warm-up 53.1 (12.9) 51.8 (13.9) 0.38 (0.16) 0.36 (0.18)
After Warm-up 65.8 (21.7) 66.9 (17.8) 0.32 (0.11) 0.33 (0.11)
After Competition 75.7 (22.0) 78.7 (22.5) 0.69 (0.31) 0.66 (0.23)
30 min. After Competition 63.6 (20.2) 58.6 (18.3) 0.70 (0.32) 0.58 (0.32)
Game 1,N=17;Game 2,N=15
Tab l e 3 The percent change in T, C, and E from neutral-day baseline to before warm-up and across warm-up,
competition, and 30 min after-competition and corresponding ANOVA results (Casto and Edwards 2015)
Game 1 (Loss) Game 2 (Win)
ΔFdfp η
ΔFdfp η
Tes to st er on e
S1 (From baseline) 4 % 0.01 1,15 0.952 <0.01 5 % 0.01 1,13 0.906 <0.01
S2 (Warm-up) 22 % 31.2 1,15 <0.001 0.68 32 % 43.2 1,13 <0.001 0.77
S3 (Competition) 19 % 4.7 1,15 0.046 0.24 18 % 13.8 1,13 0.003 0.51
S4 (After competition) 16 % 29.8 1,15 <0.001 0.67 26%94.81,13<0.0010.88
S1 (From baseline) 55 % 8.9 1,15 0.009 0.37 53 % 3.6 1,13 0.080 0.22
S2 (Warm-up) 6 % 2.5 1,15 0.137 0.14 2 % 0.92 1,13 0.354 0.07
S3 (Competition) 142 % 15.1 1,15 0.001 0.50 131 % 15.5 1,13 0.002 0.54
S4 (After competition) 2 % 0.07 1,15 0.796 0.01 15 % 2.2 1,13 0.166 0.14
Stages of Competition: S1 = Baseline to before warm-up; S2 = Before warm-up to after warm-up; S3 = After
warm-up to after competition; S4 = After competition to 30 min after competition. Δ=%change
Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology
ATO R espo nses
One participant gave incomplete responses to the ATO after the first game. Data for this
individual were removed from the Game 1 analyses leaving a total N = 16. For the
second game, one participants change in T within the 30 minutes after competition
exceeded 3 SD of the mean. Data for this individual were removed from the Game 2
analysis leaving a total N = 14, but results for both Winsorization and removal of this
outlier are included for reference. There were thirteen women who played in and gave
complete ATO responses for both matches.
For the thirteen athletes who played in both games, mean ATO score was signifi-
cantly lower after the game that was lost (M=2.36,SE = 0.19) than the game that was
won (M=3.35,SE =0.19),t(12) = 5.31, p<0.001,d=1.99.ATOscorewasnot
related to T change during competition or C change during or after competition in either
match. Additionally, ATO score was not related to absolute levels of T or C at any
point. As shown in Fig. 1, in both matches, the percent change in T after competition
was significantly and positively correlated with mean score on the ATO (Game 1, loss:
r(16) = 0.64, p= 0.007; Game 2 win: r(14) = 0.70, p= 0.005). That is, the higher an
athletes T remained after competition, the more willing she was to reconcile with her
opponent. For the participant whose post-competition T change exceeded 3 SDs from
the mean for the second match, Winsorization produced similar results (Game 2 win: r
(15) = 0.52, p= 0.046). Using absolute change, instead of percent change, the
positive relationship between T and ATO score remains, but is no longer
significant for the second of the two games (Game 1, loss: r(16) = 0.51, p=0.044;
Game 2 win: r(14) = 0.37, p=0.188).
Fig. 1 The relationship between the percent change in testosterone after competition and attitudes towards
reconciliation with an opponent.
over a data point denotes an individual whose cortisol increased within the
30 min. after competition
Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology
Due to the small sample size for each competition, there is insufficient statistical
power to test the potential moderating effect of C on the relationship between T and
reconciliation. For the game that was won, only four individuals showed increases in C
within the 30 minutes after competition whereas seven individuals increased in C
within the 30 minutes after competition following a loss (Fig. 1). The relationship
between after-competition T change and mean ATO score does not appear different for
these individuals compared to those who decreased in C after competition (Fig. 1).
As described in a companion study (Casto and Edwards 2015), for the women soccer
players included in this research, intercollegiate competition was associated with a
substantial increase in salivary levels of T and C. For T, this increase began with warm-
up and continued through to the end of competition. C levels were stable during
warm-up, but increased dramatically during competition. Increases in T were seen for
both matches and in every one of the women participating in this study, with increases
ranging from 10 to 130 % relative to before-warm-up baseline. Similarly, increases in C
were seen in a vast majority of the athletes, with levels typically doubling over the
course of competition. These findings are consistent with more than a decade of research
on hormonal responses to athletic competition in highly-trained women across a wide
array of sports (e.g., Bateup et al. 2002; Casto et al. 2014; Edwards et al. 2006; Edwards
and Kurlander 2010; Gonzalez-Bono et al. 1999;Hamiltonetal.2009;Suayetal.1999).
The implications and potential function of short-term increases in T and C during
competition are discussed elsewhere (Casto et al. 2014; Casto and Edwards 2015).
Win or lose, T typically decreased after the end of competition, reduced by as much
as forty percent from peak levels seen 30 minutes earlier. After-competition changes in
C were less predictable, and differences between T and C in this regard are discussed
elsewhere (Casto and Edwards 2015). But, whether for T or C, the magnitude and
direction of the after-competition change in hormone level was highly variable from
athlete to athlete in some individuals, competition-related peak levels of T and/or C
were sustained for at least 30 min after the end of competition, in others, hormone
levels decreased more quickly. Importantly, after-competition variability in the extent to
which T (but not C) was sustained was significantly correlated with an athletes
willingness to reconcile with an opponent as measured by mean response to the ATO
questionnaire. More specifically, the closer an athletes 30-min post competition level
of T was to her end-of-competition peak, the more willing she was to reconcile with her
opponent, and this was true in both victory and defeat.
Although the relationship between T and willingness to reconcile was apparent
following both victory and defeat, ATO scores were, on average, significantly lower
following defeat than following victory. The dampened desire to engage socially with
ones opponent after a defeat may be due to reduced mood following a sports competition
loss (e.g., Gonzalez-Bono et al. 1999). Indeed, mood has a demonstrated influence over
various socially-oriented cognitions and behaviors (e.g., Forgas 1984; Isen 1987).
Although the emotional reactions to winning and losing are quite different, the relation-
ship between T and individual differences in willingness to reconcile holds for both
Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology
It is important to note that the relationship between T and reconciliationis one that has
to do with hormone kinetics rather than absolute levels of hormones. Absolute levels of
T per se were not associated with ATO score for any of the time points sampled. Rather,
a woman with an after-competition T level that remained higher relative to her own
end-of-competition peak (no matter whether either of those levels were high or low
relative to other players) was, typically, more willing to reconcile than a woman whose T
level declined more quickly from its end-of-competition peak. Timing is also important.
Tlevelsinwomens athletic competition are constantly changing, increasing during
warm-up and competition and then decreasing after the end of competition (Casto and
Edwards 2015; Casto et al. 2014;EdwardsandKurlander2010). But, the only period for
which change in T level predicted willingness to reconcile was the interval within the
30 minutes after the end of competition a time when actions towards reconciliation
would be most appropriate. Our findings, apparently the first to show a relationship
between T and prosocial attitudes towards reconciliation after competition, are in
accordance with previous research demonstrating that Tadministration results in increases
in prosocial behavior in women studied in other, more experimentalcontexts
(Eisenegger et al. 2010;Boksemetal.2013; van Honk et al. 2012, but see Zak et al. 2009).
Reconciliation serves a number of functions to prevent group instability, reduce
future aggression, decrease anxiety, and meet the basic psychological need of removing
moral/ethical inferiority (for review, Aureli et al. 2002;deWaal2000; Dovido et al.
2010). Reconciliation may also function as a prosocial means of achieving and/or
maintaining social status. Indeed, other prosocial means of achieving status are well
documented (Anderson and Kilduff 2009; Cheng et al. 2012; Hawley 1999)andthe
particular strategy, antisocial or prosocial, likely depends on the social context (e.g.,
organized sport, a prison cell block, corporate boardroom, high school lunchroom).
Athletic competition is a context where sportsmanship and other cultural norms govern
expectations for social niceties, particularly after the competition has ended.
Consequently, status may be benefited more through acts of social cohesion rather than
direct aggression or antisocial behavior following a formal sports contest. And as a result,
the relationship between T and the desire to reconcile with an opponent after competition
is consonant with the notion that T relates to behavior intended to achieve or maintain
social status and individual power-motivation (e.g., Stanton and Schultheiss 2009;Mehta
and Josephs 2010; Edwards and Casto 2013; for review, Hamilton et al. 2015). Thus, in
influencing or being influenced by social status, relatively higher levels of T may produce
a wide range of behaviors so long as they are reinforced with access to power or influence.
In addition to social context, gender/sex could also play a role in determining
whether relatively higher levels of T relate to prosocial or antisocial behavior, but
current evidence is inconclusive. Although, both men and women use prosocial
strategies to attain status (Anderson and Kilduff 2009; Cheng et al. 2012; Hawley
1999), studies that demonstrate a positive relationship between T and antisocial behav-
ior have been mostly conducted with men (e.g. Dabbs and Morris 1990; for review,
Archer 2006) and studies that demonstrate a positive relationship between T and
prosocial behavior have been mostly conducted with women (e.g., Boskem et al.
2013; Eisenegger et al. 2010; van Honk et al. 2012)a bias that may inappropriately
lead researchers to predict a sex difference. The present study was conducted with
women. Whether the same prosocial relationship between changing levels of after-
competition T and reconciliation holds true for men remains to be determined.
Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology
Some reports are seemingly inconsistent with the finding that T relates to prosocial
behaviors like reconciliation. For example, basal T appears inversely related to the
ability to accurately infer the thoughts and feelings of others (Ronay and Carney 2013),
colleaguesratings of ones leadership abilities (Ronay and Carney 2013), and perfor-
mance in cooperative competition (Mehta et al. 2009). In women, administration of T
appears to reduce behaviors thought to reflect empathy (Hermans et al. 2006;vanHonk
and Schutter 2007; van Honk et al. 2011) and, in one study, increased egocentric
decision-making (Wright et al. 2012). However, the desire to reconcile with an
opponent and attempts to do so are probably not motivated by inherently altruistic
motives (Eisenegger et al. 2010) or necessarily benefitted by the ability to infer minute
emotional dispositions. Reconciliation can be self-serving (e.g., a strategy for promot-
ing ones status) and, at the same time, beneficial to others (i.e., prosocial), but none of
these effects seem obviously served by empathy. Additionally, when considering
studies that may or may not agree on hormone-behavior relationships, it is also
important to distinguish between the effects or correlates of basal/baseline levels of
hormones and the effects or correlates of dynamic/rapidly changing levels of hormones
(Carré and Olmstead 2015, p.172). The long and short-term influence of hormones on
behavior and physiology are distinct and in some instances even opposing (e.g.
Crewther et al. 2011; Stanton and Schultheiss 2007; Edwards and Casto 2013).
Additionally, differences in the effects of endogenous hormone levels (basal or rapidly
fluctuating) compared to exogenously administered supraphysiological doses are not
well-understood. Studies exploring the relationship between T and social behavior
would only be truly contradictory if presenting opposing effects that were at least
matched on whether or not the hormone levels reflect an endogenous or exogenous
source and whether or not the endocrine metric reflected basal or dynamic levels.
Interpretation of the results from the present study is limited by the small sample
size. Despite the small number of participants, this study was conducted in a naturalistic
competition setting and across two separate matches. Importantly, the principal effect
for this study is demonstrated on two separate occasions, a victory and a defeat. But, it
is imperative that future research explore the relationship between T and reconciliation
and the interaction between T and C in predicting reconciliation behavior with a larger
sample size in both real-world settings and in competitive laboratory contexts.
For a competing woman athlete, T typically increases over the course of competition.
The degree to which after-competition T levels are sustained reflects her willingness to
reconcile with a recent opponent in victory and defeat. Sustained high levels of T may
motivate reconciliation and other prosocial behavior at times when status is benefitted
more through social cohesion rather than overt aggression. In review of the history of
research on conflict resolution among non-human primates, de Waal (2000) describes
how decades of research centered around an individual model of aggression led to an
impoverished understanding of behavior, its antecedents, and consequences. Instead, de
Waal argues that a more comprehensive understanding requires a model of the
individual that is socially integrated as, for example, high-ranking individuals
are not necessarily the strongest, but the ones that can mobilize the most support
Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology
(de Waal 2000, p. 586). Inkeeping with this, the demonstration of a positive relationship
between T and reconciliation in the present study should encourage studies of the link
between T and status striving that extend beyond the aggressively power-motivated
individual to the socially embedded context in which that individual achieves and
maintains his or her status.
Acknowledgments We thank the Emory University varsity womens soccer coach, Sue Patberg, assistant
coach Rachel Moreland, and the 2013 varsity womens team for their participation in the research described in
this article.
Compliance with Ethical Standards This study complies with the laws for research with human subjects
in the United States and was approved by Emory Universitys IRB. All persons gave written informed consent
prior to participation in this study.
Conflict of Interest The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology
... Additionally, combatants have been found to display post-fight respect to their opponents, depending on the formidability and fighting tactics of their opponents [Pham et al. 2017]. Furthermore, elevated levels of testosterone have been used as a predictor of prosocial behavior towards an opponent after a competition [Casto, Edwards 2016]. Indeed, testosterone has been reported to increase post-competition [for a review, see Geniole, Bird, Ruddick, Carre 2017]. ...
... In sum, most contemporary research on sport diplomacy does not account for or explain individual behaviors and individual-level reconciliations after competitions, and the little research that has considered these points has lacked consideration of political hostility [Barbaro et al. 2018;Casto, Edwards 2016;Pham et al. 2017]. The absence of research in this interdisciplinary area is also evident in terms of methodological issues; there is, to our knowledge, but one instrument designed to investigate athletes' attitudes toward opponents [Casto, Edwards 2016]. ...
... In sum, most contemporary research on sport diplomacy does not account for or explain individual behaviors and individual-level reconciliations after competitions, and the little research that has considered these points has lacked consideration of political hostility [Barbaro et al. 2018;Casto, Edwards 2016;Pham et al. 2017]. The absence of research in this interdisciplinary area is also evident in terms of methodological issues; there is, to our knowledge, but one instrument designed to investigate athletes' attitudes toward opponents [Casto, Edwards 2016]. ...
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Background. While sport is often considered a vehicle for peace, the evidence for this notion is weak. There is also a vast difference in the way in which sports have been studied. Problem and aim. In light of the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, the current study investigated reconciliatory attitudes among Ukrainian athletes when facing Russian and non-Russian opponents. The aim was to explore whether sport and competition can unite combat sports athletes despite them coming from countries in conflict. Method. One hundred and fifty-six Ukrainian athletes in several different types of combat sports were recruited and divided into two groups according to whether or not they faced a Russian opponent. The groups then answered questions in regard to reconcilia-tory attitudes, sociopolitical hostility and aggression. Their answers were analyzed in an ANOVA and with subsequent moderation analysis with the PROCESS macro v3.1. Results and conclusions. We found that, in general, competition influenced reconciliatory attitudes in a positive way. Moreover, the effect was predicted by physical aggression, verbal aggression and anger. Additionally, hostility moderated the relationship between pre-and post-reconciliatory attitudes. However, neither nationality nor sociopolitical perception of Russia influenced reconciliatory attitudes. These findings might have implications for future research on combat sports, such as identifying individuals suitable to reconcile and the fostering of positive attitudes (peace) despite political conflict.
... This effect was specific to the male athletes studied; among women, only baseline T positively correlated with social connectedness. Although no studies have directly replicated these findings, a follow-up study in women soccer players showed that the degree to which T remained elevated after competition predicted increased desire to reconcile with opponent team members (Casto and Edwards, 2016b). These preliminary results suggest that following the cessation of Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. ...
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Testosterone (T) fluctuates in response to competitive social interactions, with the direction of change typically depending on factors such as contest outcome. Watching a competition may be sufficient to activate T among fans and others who are invested in the outcome. This study explores the change in T associated with vicarious experiences of competition among combat sport athletes viewing a teammate win or lose and assesses how individual differences in social identification with one’s team relates to these patterns of T reactivity. Twenty-six male combat athletes completed a social identity questionnaire on a neutral day. Later, salivary samples (assayed for T) were obtained before and after athletes viewed a video of a teammate engaged in a formal contest. T reactivity to viewing a teammate compete varied among participants in both the magnitude and direction of change, independent of contest outcome. Individual differences in cognitive centrality, a core feature of social identification, showed a strong positive relationship with T reactivity, particularly if their teammate won. Initial findings suggest that dominance-linked androgen responses associated with watching a teammate win a competition might depend on the belief that team membership is central to one’s own identity. These exploratory results in a small sample of combat athletes should be interpreted with caution. Uncovering the role of social group dynamics in influencing T responses to competition is particularly important in light of the evolutionary history of coalitional combat in humans.
... In women athletes, testosterone increases during the warm-up period, continues to increase during competition (e.g., Casto and Edwards, 2016b;Edwards and Kurlander, 2010), and is substantially decreased relative to competition levels within 30 min after the end of the athletic contest (Casto and Edwards, 2016b). But individual differences in hormone reactivity and personal style figure prominently here: in one study, win or lose, women whose testosterone remained relatively high after the end of the match were more willing to reconcile with their opponent than women whose testosterone declined more precipitously (Casto and Edwards, 2016c). The prospect of multiple hormone responses stemming from a single social encounter has not been carefully explored in humans. ...
The results of a recent study, Félix et al., 2020, give new information about the behavioral and endocrine correlates of individual differences in the potential for androgen response in male cichlid fish. We think the study raises issues that are pertinent to the study of hormones and competition in other species, particularly humans. Focusing mostly on androgen reactivity to social challenge, we emphasize the importance of inter-individual variability in physiology, personality, and motivation in studies of hormone responses to social encounters. Additionally, we give special attention to matters of “repeatability” and the timing of hormone sampling. We conclude with an appreciation of the value of comparative analysis in behavioral endocrinology.
... For example, higher levels of testosterone in both men and women have been associated with enhanced social status (Rowe et al., 2004;Sellers, 2006) or increased spatial cognitive skills when status is at play (Newman et al., 2005). Other behavioral results in men and women have also emphasized the relationship between testosterone levels and social cooperation (Casto and Edwards, 2016;Sanchez-Pages and Turiegano, 2010) or the choice of an interaction strategy (domination vs. submission) in a social context (Inoue et al., 2017;van Honk et al., 2014). In addition to these correlational evidence, recent behavioral studies tested to what extent testosterone administration plays a causal role during social interactions. ...
The role of testosterone on cognitive functions in humans remains controversial. One recent hypothesis suggests that this steroid hormone advances social status. As being observed by others is known to modulate a range of behaviors because of image concerns, we hypothesized that such an audience effect might be an important component of status seeking that is under the control of testosterone. Thus, we investigated to which extent testosterone levels are associated with the effect of being observed during prosocial choices and the neural mechanisms underlying this effect. We enrolled twenty-four male participants, aged 22.47 ± 2.62 years, in an fMRI experiment to examine the relationship between testosterone levels and brain activity engaged in deciding whether to accept or reject monetary transfers to two types of organizations (a positively evaluated organization and a negatively evaluated organization) in presence or absence of an audience. When comparing the public to the private condition, the rate of acceptance increased for the positively evaluated organization, while the rate of rejection increased for the negatively evaluated one. Higher testosterone levels were linked to greater activation in the striatum in the public compared to the private condition, regardless of the organization type. These results indicate a relationship between testosterone levels and striatal activity induced by the audience effect. These findings provide new insights on the role of testosterone in human social behavior.
... That is, in sharp contrast to the early (but likely inaccurate) view that T causes hostile and aggressive behavior in humans, emerging evidence suggests that T may fuel prosocial preferences and behaviors, especially in contexts in which a prestige-based avenue to rank appears more viable or profitable (in terms of fitness gains). For example, in female communities-where highly dominant women may evoke particularly strong anti-dominance sentiments from subordinates (Benenson, 2013;Cashdan, 1995), thus making dominance a precarious long-term strategy in this context (Redhead et al., under review)-a rise in T actually predicts greater affiliative interactions with other women (Casto & Edwards, 2016). In fact, directly linking T to prestige-based status, male and female athletes with higher T are not only seen as more skilled by teammates but also enjoy greater social popularity and connectedness-two proxies of high prestige (Edwards et al., 2006). ...
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The brain, behavior, and neuroendocrine system have coevolved to support human group living. Recent developments in behavioral endocrinology over last several decades increasingly point to the powerful role of social experiences in influencing and being influenced by hormones. Here, we review the accumulated empirical developments that link two hormones—testosterone and cortisol—to social competition and affiliation. We suggest that testosterone and cortisol both influence and reflect the dynamics of human social behavior in domains of competition and affiliation, albeit in very different ways. The evidence supports the notion that testosterone may function as a competition hormone that calibrates psychological systems to current social standing and adaptively guide status-seeking efforts. As for cortisol, much evidence reveals that cortisol modulates affiliative behaviors in ways that appear to be adaptive; cortisol is elevated during times of social threat, social isolation, and loneliness, possibly to mobilize responses geared toward seeking coping and support, but is dampened when individuals gain social control and affiliative support. Still, more work is needed to unpack the complex interplay between neurobiology and human sociality. We end with a number of methodological recommendations on how using salivary bioscience methods may ultimately lead to a richer understanding of the complex reciprocal ties between biology and human social behavior.
... Additionally, many females take hormonal contraceptives, and effects of exogenous hormones on cross-axes communication is poorly understood. Casto and Edwards (2016) found that females taking hormonal contraceptives generally displayed lower levels of testosterone at baseline in the context of competition but similar testosterone reactivity; however, cortisol levels increased during the period of competition. ...
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Background This study aimed to analyze the extent of fatigue responses after female soccer matches and the ensuing recovery time course of performance, physiological, and perceptual responses. Methods Three databases (PubMed, Web of Science, and SPORTDiscus) were searched in October 2020 and updated in November 2021. Studies were included when participants were female soccer players, regardless of their ability level. Further, the intervention was an official soccer match with performance, physiological, or perceptual parameters collected pre- and post-match (immediately, 12 h, 24 h, 48 h, or 72 h-post). Results A total of 26 studies ( n = 465 players) were included for meta-analysis. Most performance parameters showed some immediate post-match reduction (effect size [ES] = − 0.72 to − 1.80), apart from countermovement jump (CMJ; ES = − 0.04). Reduced CMJ performance occurred at 12 h (ES = − 0.38) and 24 h (ES = − 0.42) and sprint at 48 h post-match (ES = − 0.75). Inflammatory and immunological parameters responded acutely with moderate-to-large increases (ES = 0.58–2.75) immediately post-match. Creatine kinase and lactate dehydrogenase alterations persisted at 72 h post-match (ES = 3.79 and 7.46, respectively). Small-to-moderate effects were observed for increased cortisol (ES = 0.75) and reduced testosterone/cortisol ratio (ES = -0.47) immediately post-match, while negligible to small effects existed for testosterone (ES = 0.14) and estradiol (ES = 0.34). Large effects were observed for perceptual variables, with increased fatigue (ES = 1.79) and reduced vigor (ES = − 0.97) at 12 h post-match, while muscle soreness was increased immediately post (ES = 1.63) and at 24 h post-match (ES = 1.00). Conclusions Acute fatigue exists following female soccer matches, and the performance, physiological, and perceptual parameters showed distinctive recovery timelines. Importantly, physical performance was recovered at 72 h post-match, whereas muscle damage markers were still increased at this time point. These timelines should be considered when planning training and match schedules. However, some caution should be advised given the small number of studies available on this population. Registration The protocol for this systematic review was pre-registered on the International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews (PROSPERO, Registration Number: CRD42021237857).
Increasing evidence indicates that the interaction between testosterone and cortisol is associated with variation in aggressive behavior. However, results are mixed. The current study further explored the association between testosterone, cortisol, and both reactive and proactive aggression in a large sample of university students. Models considered direct and interactive effects between baseline measures of testosterone and cortisol as well as change in hormones in response to a social stressor. In women, baseline cortisol had a negative direct association with reactive aggression and was further associated with reactive aggression in interaction with baseline testosterone (positive interaction). Hormones were unrelated to reactive aggression in men. Baseline cortisol had a negative direct association with proactive aggression in women. In contrast, the association between change in cortisol and proactive aggression was positive. Cortisol was not associated with proactive aggression in men. In addition, testosterone was not related to proactive aggression either directly or in interaction with cortisol in either men or women. Collectively, these results show that the association between hormones and aggression varies across aggressive behavior type and across sex.
Sinnerfüllung und Lebensbedeutungen werden durch verschiedene Merkmale geprägt und beeinflusst. Dazu zählen Persönlichkeitsdispositionen und demografische Eigenschaften wie Alter, Geschlecht, Familienstand und Ausbildung. Auch Stimmungen und Situationen wirken sich auf die subjektive Sinnwahrnehmung aus. In diesem Kapitel erfahren Sie, in welcher Beziehung Sinn und Lebensbedeutungen mit den Big-Five-Persönlichkeitseigenschaften stehen, wie sich Sinn und Lebensbedeutungen mit dem Alter verändern und wie das Sinnerleben über Aktivitäten hinweg schwankt. Geschlechtsunterschiede werden diskutiert ebenso wie der Zusammenhang mit Intelligenz und Hochbegabung.
Long-term cooperation between individuals necessitates repairing damage arising from inevitable competing interests. How two members of a valuable relationship switch from competing to cooperating constitutes an important problem for any social species. Observations of non-human animals suggest that affiliative contact immediately following a contest facilitates continued cooperation. Behavioral studies further indicate that winners and losers frequently differ in hormonal changes following a competition. We tested the hypothesis that immediate contact with increases in cortisol (and testosterone for men) for winners following competition would facilitate subsequent cooperation between adult same-sex friends. Results show that contact (versus no contact) immediately following competition enhanced subsequent cooperation between female friends. During contact, increases in winner's cortisol for both sexes, and in testosterone for men, predicted future cooperation. Our results suggest two mechanisms that maintain social bonds following competition between established allies.
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How do human beings decide when to be selfish or selfless? In this study, we gave testosterone to 25 men to establish its impact on prosocial behaviors in a double-blind within-subjects design. We also confirmed participants' testosterone levels before and after treatment through blood draws. Using the Ultimatum Game from behavioral economics, we find that men with artificially raised T, compared to themselves on placebo, were 27% less generous towards strangers with money they controlled (95% CI placebo: (1.70, 2.72); 95% CI T: (.98, 2.30)). This effect scales with a man's level of total-, free-, and dihydro-testosterone (DHT). Men in the lowest decile of DHT were 560% more generous than men in the highest decile of DHT. We also found that men with elevated testosterone were more likely to use their own money punish those who were ungenerous toward them. Our results continue to hold after controlling for altruism. We conclude that elevated testosterone causes men to behave antisocially.
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Testosterone (T) and cortisol (C) are hormones related to, respectively, dominance motivation and stress. Levels of both hormones increase in association with athletic competition. Estradiol (E) has been linked to dominance motivation in women, but has heretofore not been studied in the context of athletic competition. In this study, salivary levels of T, C, and E were determined for women soccer players to obtain a neutral-day baseline. Later, changing levels of these same hormones were tracked across the course of two intercollegiate matches, one played at home (a loss) and the other played away (a win). Before warm-up levels of C and E (but not T) were elevated relative to neutral-day baseline. T and E (but not C) increased during warm-up. T and C increased during the competition, while E declined to baseline. During the 30-min period after the end of competition, T decreased while C remained elevated. Pre-warm-up, warm-up, and competition-related changes in T, C, and E were not dependent on match venue (home vs away) or match outcome (win vs loss). T and C decreased more within the 30 min after the game that was won compared to the game that was lost. Over the course of athletic competition, levels of T, C, and E change differentially in relation to each other in remarkably reliable and predictable patterns across individuals and sports contexts. These findings should encourage study of the ways in which the interplay of these hormonal changes influence and/or is influenced by the psychological experience of competition.
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Status hierarchies are universal across human and non–human animal social groups. Hormones and status interact with one another in a reciprocal manner. The present paper reviews the current literature on the interaction between testosterone (T), cortisol (C) and status in humans, with reference to non-human animal research. We discuss the complexity of the social neuroendocrinology of status with a focus on stable status, competitions for status, and the effects of severe social subjugation. Importantly, we conclude that the relationship between these hormones and status is not direct. We address moderators of the relationship between hormones and status, such as sex, individual differences, context, and T x C interactions, to get a more nuanced understanding of this relationship. Future directions include suggestions for examining this relationship longitudinally, including more females in status research, additional focus on social context and hormonal interactions, as well as non-competitive routes to status.
This chapter examines some of the literature demonstrating an impact of affect on social behavior. It will consider the influence of affect on cognition in an attempt to further understand on the way cognitive processes may mediate the effect of feelings on social behavior. The chapter describes the recent works suggesting an influence of positive affect on flexibility in cognitive organization (that is, in the perceived relatedness of ideas) and the implications of this effect for social interaction. The goal of this research is to expand the understanding of social behavior and the factors, such as affect, that influence interaction among people. Another has been to extend the knowledge of affect, both as one of these determinants of social behavior and in its own right. And a third has been to increase the understanding of cognitive processes, especially as they play a role in social interaction. Most recently, cognitive and social psychologists have investigated ways in which affective factors may participate in cognitive processes (not just interrupt them) and have begun to include affect as a factor in more comprehensive models of cognition. The research described in the chapter has focused primarily on feelings rather than intense emotion, because feelings are probably the most frequent affective experiences. The chapter focuses primarily on positive affect.
Two hypotheses have been offered to explain the relation between testosterone and antisocial behavior in delinquent and criminal populations. One is that testosterone leads directly to antisocial behavior. The other is that a constellation of dominance, competitiveness, and sensation seeking associated with testosterone leads to either antisocial or prosocial behavior, depending upon an individual's resources and background. Analysis of archival data from 4,462 U.S. military veterans supported the first hypothesis: Testosterone was correlated with a variety of antisocial behaviors among all individuals. However, socioeconomic status (SES) proved to be a moderating variable, with weaker testosterone-behavior relationships among high SES subjects.
A large body of evidence indicates that individual differences in baseline concentrations of testosterone (T) are only weakly correlated with human aggression. Importantly, T concentrations are not static, but rather fluctuate rapidly in the context of competitive interactions, suggesting that acute fluctuations in T may be more relevant for our understanding of the neuroendocrine mechanisms underlying variability in human aggression. In this paper, we provide an overview of the literature on T and human competition, with a primary focus on the role of competition-induced T dynamics in the modulation of human aggression. In addition, we discuss potential neural mechanisms underlying the effect of T dynamics on human aggression. Finally, we highlight several challenges for the field of social neuroendocrinology and discuss areas of research that may enhance our understanding of the complex bi-directional relationship between T and human social behavior. Copyright © 2014. Published by Elsevier Ltd.