Testosterone is thought to be positively associated with "mating effort", or the initiation and establishment of sexual relationships (Wingfield et al., 1990). Yet, because testosterone is negatively associated with nurturance (van Anders et al., 2011), high levels of testosterone may be incompatible with relationship maintenance. For instance, partnered men with high testosterone report lower relationship quality compared to partnered men with low testosterone (e.g., Booth and Dabbs, 1993). Findings for women are inconsistent, however, and even less is known about potential dyadic associations between testosterone and relationship quality in couples. In the current report, we assessed relationship satisfaction, commitment, and investment in heterosexual couples and tested the hypothesis that these aspects of relationship quality would be negatively associated with an individual's own and his/her partner's testosterone levels. We found that testosterone was in fact negatively associated with relationship satisfaction and commitment in both men and women. There was also evidence for dyadic associations: Participants' satisfaction and commitment were negatively related to their partners' levels of testosterone, and these associations were larger for women's than men's testosterone. Our findings are consistent with the idea that high testosterone may be incompatible with the maintenance of nurturant relationships. The current findings also provide some of the first evidence for dyadic associations between testosterone and relationship quality in couples, highlighting the interdependent nature of close relationship processes and the importance of considering this interdependence in social neuroendocrine research.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
- Behavioral Neuroscience