Testosterone and Dominance in Humans: Behavioral and Brain Mechanisms

  • Jack van HonkEmail author
  • Peter A. Bos
  • David Terburg
Part of the Research and Perspectives in Neurosciences book series (NEUROSCIENCE, volume 21)


Most people think that the hormone testosterone especially triggers aggression and antisocial behavior in humans. Mistakenly, the male sex steroid principally underlies each and every aspect of human social behavior but especially social dominance behavior. Testosterone by itself or by way of its metabolite, estradiol, the female sex steroid, is essential in the action of the social peptides oxytocin and vasopressin and regulates the turnover of the social monoamines, dopamine and serotonin. The hormone also has many other actions in the brain; thus the social brain’s main chemical, without exaggeration, is testosterone. Here we review a line of findings with placebo-controlled testosterone administration in the field of social neuroscience in which various techniques are used to investigate social dominance and trustworthiness behaviors. These findings give insights into how and by what biobehavioral mechanisms testosterone acts in humans to motivate them to establish and maintain a dominant status.


Social Dominance Interpersonal Trust Social Aggression Testosterone Administration Dominance Behavior 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jack van Honk
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Peter A. Bos
    • 1
    • 2
  • David Terburg
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUtrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Cape TownCape TownSouth Africa

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