Exploring the Mind | The Costs and Benefits of Testosterone in Close Relationship Contexts on AADL.TV
In the media and popular culture, testosterone is often depicted as a hormone that is critical for men of all ages, but this doesn't tell the whole story.
We are taught that testosterone is responsible for seemingly “masculine” behaviors, such as competition, sexual prowess, and physical strength. Based on such characterizations, one might assume that testosterone only matters for men, and that, at least for men, the more testosterone the better. In actuality, however, the story is more complicated: First, testosterone is important for both men and women. Second, although there are certainly many benefits of high(er) testosterone, including for attracting and securing sexual partners, lower testosterone may in fact be more beneficial for maintaining close relationships—both with romantic partners and children. In this talk, I will present work from my lab on testosterone and relationship processes in romantic and parent-child relationships. Taken together, this work demonstrates that, in both men and women, testosterone declines as a function of partnering and parenting; lower testosterone facilitates ongoing nurturant relationship processes; and testosterone matters not only for one’s own relationship outcomes but also those of one’s partner.
Dr. Robin Edelstein is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Michigan. She is a social/personality psychologist with expertise in close relationships, parent-infant and adult romantic attachment, and social neuroendocrinology. Her work is motivated by a desire to understand how important emotional and interpersonal processes, which are typically assumed to apply to all people, may instead differ across people in meaningful ways. Dr. Edelstein is particularly interested in understanding how close relationship experiences (e.g., interactions with romantic partners, major relationship transitions) get “under the skin” to influence people’s physiology, as well as the ways in which people’s physiology can influence relationship outcomes. She also studies individual differences in people’s approaches to and experiences in close relationships; how these differences develop and change over time and across the lifespan; and the implications of these differences for interpersonal and physiological outcomes. Dr. Edelstein received her Ph.D. in Social/Personality Psychology from the University of California, Davis, and spent two years as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Irvine, before coming to the University of Michigan.
This program is in partnership with the University of Michigan Department of Psychology.