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Testosterone, cortisol, dominance, and submission: Biologically prepared motivation, no psychological mechanisms involved

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 February 2004

Jack van Honk*
Affiliation:
Helmholtz Research Institute, Affective Neuroscience Section, Utrecht University, 3584CSUtrecht, The Netherlands
Dennis J. L. G. Schutter*
Affiliation:
Helmholtz Research Institute, Affective Neuroscience Section, Utrecht University, 3584CSUtrecht, The Netherlands
Erno J. Hermans*
Affiliation:
Helmholtz Research Institute, Affective Neuroscience Section, Utrecht University, 3584CSUtrecht, The Netherlands
Peter Putman*
Affiliation:
Helmholtz Research Institute, Affective Neuroscience Section, Utrecht University, 3584CSUtrecht, The Netherlands

Abstract:

Mazur & Booth's (1998) target article concerns basal and reciprocal relations between testosterone and dominance, and has its roots in Mazur's (1985; 1994) model of primate dominance-submissiveness interactions. Threats are exchanged in these interactions and a psychological stress-manipulation mechanism is suggested to operate, making sure that face-to-face dominance contests are usually resolved without aggression. In this commentary, a recent line of evidence from human research on the relation between testosterone, cortisol, and vigilant (dominant) and avoidant (submissive) responses to threatening “angry” faces is discussed. Findings, to a certain extent, converge with Mazur & Booth's theorizing. However, the strongest relations have been found in subliminal exposure conditions, suggesting that biological instead of psychological mechanisms are involved.

Type
Continuing Commentary
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2004

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