Human Nature

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 119–131 | Cite as

Human male pair bonding and testosterone

  • Peter B. GrayEmail author
  • Judith Flynn Chapman
  • Terence C. Burnham
  • Matthew H. McIntyre
  • Susan F. Lipson
  • Peter T. Ellison


Previous research in North America has supported the view that male involvement in committed, romantic relationships is associated with lower testosterone (T) levels. Here, we test the prediction that undergraduate men involved in committed, romantic relationships (paired) will have lower T levels than men not involved in such relationships (unpaired). Further, we also test whether these differences are more apparent in samples collected later, rather than earlier, in the day. For this study, 107 undergraduate men filled out a questionnaire and collected one saliva sample (from which a subject’s T level was measured) at various times across the day. As in previous studies, men involved in committed, romantic relationships had lower salivary T levels, though only during later times of the day. Furthermore, additional analysis of the variation among unpaired subjects indicated that men without prior relationship experience had lower T levels than experienced men. Finally, while paired men as a group had lower T levels than unpaired men, those men at the earliest stage (less than six months) of a current relationship had higher T levels than unpaired men as well as men in longer-term relationships. These results suggest that variation in male testosterone levels may reflect differential behavioral allocation to mating effort.

Key words

Mating Effort Pair Bond Reproductive Strategies Testosterone 


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Copyright information

© Walter de Gruyter, Inc 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter B. Gray
    • 1
    Email author
  • Judith Flynn Chapman
    • 1
  • Terence C. Burnham
    • 1
  • Matthew H. McIntyre
    • 1
  • Susan F. Lipson
    • 1
  • Peter T. Ellison
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Molecular MedicineCharles Drew University of Medicine and ScienceLos Angeles

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