THE INFLUENCE OF TESTOSTERONE ON DEVIANCE IN ADULTHOOD: ASSESSING AND EXPLAINING THE RELATIONSHIP*

Authors


  • *

    The data were originally gathered as part of the Vietnam Experience Study, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control, U.S. Public Health Service, under a cooperative agreement with the Veterans Administration.

  • Alan Booth is Professor of Sociology at Pennsylvania State University. His research interests include marital instability over the life course, hormones and social behavior, and the influence of war experience on marital relations.

  • D. Wayne Osgood is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His current research interests include interpersonal influence and deviance, the relationship between age and deviance, and the impact of role transitions on deviance.

Abstract

Using a large sample of men, we examine alternative models of the way in which testosterone may influence adult deviant behavior. The results indicate a significant and moderately strong relationship between testosterone and adult deviance, and this relationship between testosterone and adult deviance is largely mediated by the influence of testosterone on social integration and on prior involvement in juvenile delinquency. In addition, testosterone level moderates the relationship of social integration to adult deviance: The restraining influence of social integration is less necessary for men with lower levels of testosterone. Further, prior delinquency interacts with social integration in the same fashion, accounting for much of the moderating effect of testosterone. This pattern of results supports the conclusions that (1) testosterone is one of a larger constellation of factors contributing to a general latent propensity toward deviance and (2) the influence of testosterone on adult deviance is closely tied to social factors. Our findings show that there is considerable promise in a biosocial approach that integrates social and biological explanations, rather than playing them off against one another.

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