Testosterone reactivity to provocation mediates the effect of early intervention on aggressive behavior

Psychol Sci. 2014 May 1;25(5):1140-6. doi: 10.1177/0956797614525642. Epub 2014 Mar 28.


We tested the hypotheses that the Fast Track intervention program for high-risk children would reduce adult aggressive behavior and that this effect would be mediated by decreased testosterone responses to social provocation. Participants were a subsample of males from the full trial sample, who during kindergarten had been randomly assigned to the 10-year Fast Track intervention or to a control group. The Fast Track program attempted to develop children's social competencies through child social-cognitive and emotional-coping skills training, peer-relations coaching, academic tutoring, and classroom management, as well as training for parents to manage their child's behavior. At a mean age of 26 years, participants responded to laboratory provocations. Results indicated that, relative to control participants, men assigned to the intervention demonstrated reduced aggression and testosterone reactivity to social provocations. Moreover, reduced testosterone reactivity mediated the effect of intervention on aggressive behavior, which provides evidence for an enduring biological mechanism underlying the effect of early psychosocial intervention on aggressive behavior in adulthood.

Keywords: aggressive behavior; antisocial behavior; intervention; neuroendocrinology.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological / physiology
  • Adult
  • Aggression / physiology*
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / metabolism*
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / prevention & control
  • Child
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Early Intervention, Educational
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Negotiating / methods
  • Schools
  • Testosterone / metabolism*


  • Testosterone