Testosterone and Aggression in Men

Humans are animals – as shocking a revelation as this may be, it is scientific fact.

In many different animal species a distinct correlation has been identified between the rise of testosterone levels in males during mating season and aggression. Despite this, many psychologists are resistant to the idea that the same may be true of human males.

What Makes Men Different?

It is generally accepted that humans, with our capacity for higher cognitive thought, are able to control our actions. The erratic and violent impulses which come from the more primitive parts of our brain are tempered by reason.

However, not even the most resistant analyst can deny there are times at which passion can override our rational impulses. In truth, we are not as dominant over nature as we like to believe.

Is There Evidence that More Testosterone Means More Aggression?

Not per se; while men with low testosterone are often noted to be particularly unaggressive and to have a pervasive lack of sex drive, treatment for low testosterone through hormone replacement therapy like this will not typically cause a man to swing to the opposite extreme. However, certain interesting correlations do exist between men’s testosterone levels, hormone replacement therapy, and aggression.

Studies have found that large doses of testosterone may be related to increased aggression in some men. Similarly, it is suggested that young men who use anabolic steroids are more likely to be involved in committing a violent crime (as opposed to young men who do not use steroids).

In addition, the rate of criminal behavior and testosterone levels among males tend to peak at around the same time. It is often after a man marries and settles down that testosterone levels and rates of criminal behavior seem to drop, while conversely, testosterone levels and involvement in violent crime tends to rise again among men who reenter the dating world after a divorce.

Is the connection between higher testosterone levels and aggressive behavior absolute? Not necessarily, but one would be amiss to overlook the prospect of a connection. Of course, the same can be said of the opposite – would a man who opts for treatment such as testosterone replacement therapy also be likely to develop a more aggressive personality? Not necessarily.

Is Testosterone Therefore an Excuse for Violent Behavior?

Of course not.

Regardless of a man’s testosterone levels, hormones should never be accepted as a means to justify or rationalize violence or any other form of antisocial behavior. However, the clearly apparent correlation between higher testosterone levels and the propensity for violent behavior is not something to disregard.

Testosterone is not an excuse or means to rationalize violence, but we must keep in mind the prospect of a causal relationship between high testosterone levels and violence. By acknowledging the fact that we are still animals and are therefore subject to vestiges of our primal nature, we can better understand and learn to control our own emotions.

Otherwise we run the risk of allowing those very urges to get the better of us.