Male Adolescents’ Sexual Behavior and the Role of Testosterone

  • Aleksandar Štulhofer
  • Goran KoletićEmail author
  • Ivan Landripet
  • Gert Martin Hald
  • Jadranka Knežević Ćuća
Original Article



Given the paucity of studies focusing on testosterone (T) and adolescent sexuality, and their conflicting findings, we aimed to empirically address two competing conceptualizations of the link between T and sexual behavior in adolescence: (1) the T as sexual motivator and (2) the T as competition-sensitive sexual motivator models.


The study used data from a longitudinal study of 252 male Croatian adolescents who provided a saliva sample at the final data collection wave (at the age of 18). Applying multivariate statistical procedures, we tested links between salivary T levels and a range of partnered and non-partnered sexual behaviors—partly in retrospect.


Only one significant association emerged—a robust link between T at the age of 18 and the number of lifetime sexual partners. Considering the evidence that multiple sexual partners can enhance male adolescents’ social status, our findings support the T as competition-sensitive sexual motivator model.


Although this study could not distinguish between direct and indirect influences of T on adolescents’ sexuality, it confirmed the value of biopsychosocial approach to adolescent sexuality.


Male adolescents Testosterone Sexual behavior Social competition 



This work has been fully funded by Croatian Science Foundation (grant number 9221 awarded to the first author). We would like to thank Douglas Granger for his help in designing the biological arm of the study. We also owe a special debt of gratitude to Sari van Anders, for informing our preparations for biological data collection and providing invaluable comments on the manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declared that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology, Faculty of Humanities and Social SciencesUniversity of ZagrebZagrebCroatia
  2. 2.Departmentof Public HealthUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark
  3. 3.Department of Medical Biochemistry and Laboratory MedicineMerkur University HospitalZagrebCroatia

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