Testosterone and human behavior: the role of individual and contextual variables

Curr Opin Psychol. 2018 Feb;19:149-153. doi: 10.1016/j.copsyc.2017.03.021. Epub 2017 Apr 6.


The study of testosterone and aggression originated in experimental studies of animals, showing a direct causal link in some species. Human studies showed an overall weak correlation between testosterone and aggression. A theoretical framework ('the challenge hypothesis') enabled testosterone-behavior interactions in humans to be framed within a theory that emphasized hormonal responses to competition influencing subsequent aggressive behavior. The short-term administrations of testosterone to young women and to young men showed influences on behavioral and neural processes associated with aggression. Other findings are that testosterone influences aggression in high dominance men, and in those with low cortisol levels; and that testosterone can affect both aggressive and prosocial behavior, within the context of an experimental game.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aggression / physiology*
  • Competitive Behavior / physiology*
  • Female
  • Game Theory
  • Games, Experimental
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Testosterone / blood
  • Testosterone / pharmacology*


  • Testosterone