The Link Between Testosterone and Aggression

DQ1: Hormones play a critical role in complex human behaviors. Several theories have advanced ideas about the way our behavior is influenced by hormones, including our sexual orientation. Select one of these theories and explain it, focusing on the proposed influence of hormones on neurological functions. Do you think this theory is plausible? 

As usual, support your arguments with sources from readings or other sources. List the citations and references.

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I was fascinated by the effects of testosterone on aggressive behavior. The discussion of this effect of hormones reminds me of the nature vs. nurture debate. Who plays more of the music, the violin or the violinist? In this case, the sum of the parts does not equal the whole. The violin and violinist compose an integrated whole that cannot fulfill its underlying purpose without both parts. In the same way, the formation of aggressive behavior and the level of the hormone testosterone affect each other, rather than a simple cause-and-effect scenario. For instance, increased aggressive behavior causes elevated levels of testosterone (Wickens, 2005). Also, increased levels of testosterone cause aggressive behavior. Therefore, levels of testosterone and aggressive behavior form a causal loop, with each affecting the other continually. Conversely, defeat brings with it lowered testosterone and by consequence lower levels of aggression. In the case of the body, it would seem that testosterone is the medium through which the brain communicates aggression and vice versa. 

I do think this theory is plausible and well supported by empirical data. There is a clear correlation between increased testosterone and increased aggressive behavior. I would just wonder if there was an anti-testosterone antagonist that works counter to the aggressive tendencies of elevated levels of testosterone. I am sure it would be a part of the parasympathetic system, acting to counter the actions of the sympathetic nervous system. Any thoughts…  

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Wickens, A. (2005). Foundations of biopsychology, 2e. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson Hall. 

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