Testosterone and Men’s Stress Responses to Gender Threats

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Given findings suggesting that basal testosterone (T) is a biological marker of dominance striving that buffers people against stress, we examined the role of basal T in men’s stress responses (cortisol reactivity) following a private, noncompetitive gender status threat. One-hundred twenty-eight men recruited from a university in the Southeast provided saliva samples both before and 15 minutes after receiving feedback that either threatened or affirmed their gender status. Gender threatening feedback elicited heightened cortisol reactivity among men who were low, but not high, in basal T (interaction ƒ² = .03). This suggests that men high in T may be buffered from the immediate psychophysiological effects of manhood threats. Discussion considers how these findings add to the literature on basal T and reactions to status threats.

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Psychology of Men & Masculinity, v. 15, issue 1, p. 4-11