Pair Bonding and Testosterone in Men: Longitudinal Evidence for Trait and Dynamic Associations

Abstract

Testosterone (T) and pair bonding in men are linked such that lower T is associated with monoamorous partnering (i.e., with one person) and high T is associated with singlehood. However, it has remained unclear whether T levels predict partnering status or vice versa. Evidence suggests time course of T measurements in relation to partnering as well as nurturant and sexual experiences may affect whether T predicts partnering or vice versa and that transitions into or out of partnerhood may have unique associations with changes in T. We examined links between salivary T levels, relationship status, and relationship status transitions in 78-first year male college students over an approximately year-long period. Using longitudinal data, our findings largely support trait associations between T and relationship status in men, i.e., that T predicts relationship status. However, our data also provide novel evidence of dynamic associations and differences in T levels at different relationship status transitions.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    In the interest of full reporting, we note that these measures for analyses of other questions included the Investment Model Scale (Rusbult et al. 1998), the Quality Marriage Index (Norton 1983), the UCLA Multidimensional Condom Attitudes Scale (Helweg-Larsen and Collins 1994), the Index of Sexual Satisfaction (Hudson et al. 1981), the Experiences in Close Relationships Scale (Brennan et al. 1998), the General Well-Being Schedule (Dupuy 1973), the Klein Sexuality Grid (Klein et al. 1985), the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (Zimet et al. 1988), the Perceived Stress Scale (Cohen et al. 1983), the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (Watson et al. 1988), the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (Rosenberg 1965), the Sex-Role Traditionalism Scale (Peplau et al. 1993), the Sexual Desire Inventory (Spector et al. 1996), and the UCLA Loneliness Scale (Russell et al. 1978).

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Acknowledgements

The authors would like to acknowledge Terri L. Conley, Divya Patel, and the members of the van Anders and Conley Labs for help with data collection.

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Correspondence to Sari M. van Anders.

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This study was funded by faculty discretionary funds.

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Dibble, E.R., Goldey, K.L. & van Anders, S.M. Pair Bonding and Testosterone in Men: Longitudinal Evidence for Trait and Dynamic Associations. Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology 3, 71–90 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40750-016-0054-8

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Keywords

  • Testosterone
  • Pair bonding
  • Directionality
  • Longitudinal
  • Relationships