Approach–Avoidance versus Dominance–Submissiveness: A Multilevel Neural Framework on How Testosterone Promotes Social Status

Emotion Review 5 (3):296-302 (2013)
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Approach–avoidance generally describes appetitive motivation and fear of punishment. In a social context approach motivation is, however, also expressed as social aggression and dominance. We therefore link approach–avoidance to dominance–submissiveness, and provide a neural framework that describes how the steroid hormone testosterone shifts reflexive as well as deliberate behaviors towards dominance and promotion of social status. Testosterone inhibits acute fear at the level of the basolateral amygdala and hypothalamus and promotes reactive dominance through upregulation of vasopressin gene expression in the central-medial amygdala. Finally, the hormone can, depending on social context and prenatal hormone exposure, promote both pro- and antisocial behaviors and decisions through its effects on prefrontal–amygdala interactions. All these effects of testosterone, however, serve to increase and maintain social status



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