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

Behavioral and Brain Sciences 27 (1):160-160 (2004)
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.
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