Social neuroendocrinology of human aggression: examining the role of competition-induced testosterone dynamics

Neuroscience. 2015 Feb 12;286:171-86. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2014.11.029. Epub 2014 Nov 26.


A large body of evidence indicates that individual differences in baseline concentrations of testosterone (T) are only weakly correlated with human aggression. Importantly, T concentrations are not static, but rather fluctuate rapidly in the context of competitive interactions, suggesting that acute fluctuations in T may be more relevant for our understanding of the neuroendocrine mechanisms underlying variability in human aggression. In this paper, we provide an overview of the literature on T and human competition, with a primary focus on the role of competition-induced T dynamics in the modulation of human aggression. In addition, we discuss potential neural mechanisms underlying the effect of T dynamics on human aggression. Finally, we highlight several challenges for the field of social neuroendocrinology and discuss areas of research that may enhance our understanding of the complex bi-directional relationship between T and human social behavior.

Keywords: aggression; competition; social neuroendocrinology; testosterone.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aggression / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Competitive Behavior / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motivation / physiology*
  • Testosterone / physiology*


  • Testosterone