- Now we men can blame our hormones: testosterone is trouble | Phil Daoust
- Longitudinal Perspectives on Fathers’ Residence Status, Time Allocation, and Testosterone in the Philippines
- Understand a Testosterone Brain by the Help of a Man’s Perspective
- Men to look
- Understand a testosterone-induced brain
- So what does “The Look” mean?
- What “The Look” doesn’t mean:
- Why men look at other women
- When does this become a problem?
- How to deal with this issue?
- Testosterone on the Brain
Now we men can blame our hormones: testosterone is trouble | Phil Daoust
As a man – the sort of thoughtful, Fawcett Society-supporting man who lowers the toilet seat after peeing, even when he has the house to himself – it’s hard to talk about women and their hormones.
There’s no doubt that they affect minds and bodies, through puberty, pregnancy and premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
The National Association for Premenstrual Syndrome’s list of “common” symptoms includes mood swings, depression, tiredness, anxiety, feeling control, irritability, aggression, headaches, sleep disorder, food cravings, breast tenderness, bloating, weight gain and clumsiness.
Men can’t and shouldn’t ignore this catalogue of woes. But there’s a fine line between commiserating and condescending. It’s too easy – and tempting – to dismiss a woman’s actions or opinions because it’s “that time of the month”. Mostly it isn’t. Many women are lucky enough to escape PMS. And even when they don’t, sometimes she’s still right and you’re still wrong.
For better or worse, however, we males must now face up to our own fluctuating chemistry.
We may not routinely bloat and bleed, but a new study makes it clear that we too are at the mercy of our hormones – specifically, the one produced between our legs.
After testing hundreds of men, researchers from the California Institute of Technology, Wharton School, Western University and ZRT Laboratory reported (pdf) “a clear and robust causal effect of testosterone on human cognition and decision-making”.
To put it bluntly, testosterone makes you stupid.
Having persuaded 243 men to smear their torsos with either a placebo or a testosterone gel (imagine the lead-up: “No, honestly, we’re not videoing this … No, that’s not a one-way mirror … No, we are not going to offer you a Diet Coke”), the scientists gave them a “cognitive reflection test” designed to assess their ability to answer tricky questions where their first, intuitive answer was ly to be wrong*. Those who had rubbed themselves with testosterone rather than the placebo answered 20% fewer questions correctly – while remaining convinced they were right. They also “gave incorrect answers more quickly, and correct answers more slowly than the placebo group”. As Caltech’s Colin Camerer said: “The testosterone is either inhibiting the process of mentally checking your work or increasing the intuitive feeling that, ‘I’m definitely right.’”
Perhaps it’s not Donald Trump’s brain that’s running things, but the Leydig cells in his testicles
If testosterone does encourage hasty decisions, that’s not always a bad thing. If you’re being chased by a tiger, for example, it’s better to either run away or improvise a weapon than to just stand there weighing up your options. All the same, this will be a kick in the teeth for big pharma.
In the US particularly, drug companies have encouraged doctors to prescribe billions of dollars’ worth of testosterone supplements to combat the effects of ageing, despite objections that they do nothing for men’s health.
A host of studies have already shown a correlation between elevated testosterone levels and aggression – and now they’re being linked to dumb overconfidence. That won’t help with the marketing – though it may explain Donald Trump and his half-cocked willy-waggling.
Perhaps it’s not the president’s brain that’s running things, but the Leydig cells in his testicles.
Women aren’t entirely off the hook – their bodies also produce testosterone, though in smaller quantities, and the Caltech study notes that “it remains to be tested whether the effect is generalisable to females” – but for now at least they now have another way to fight the scourge of mansplaining: “You’re talking your nuts.”
Better still, with the evils of testosterone firmly established, the world may learn to appreciate older men.
Around the age of 30, no longer “young, dumb and full of cum”, we typically find our testosterone levels declining, so that with every day that passes we become less aggressive, more rational and generally nicer.
Your average 54-year-old – to pick an age entirely at random – can now boast that as well as decades of experience, he can draw on ever-larger reserves of self-control. Whether we’re trying to land a beautiful lover or a well-paid job, that should make us quite a catch.
* For example, “A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?” If you immediately declared “10¢” rather than “5¢”, you’re a) wrong and b) possibly covered in testosterone gel.
• Phil Daoust is a Guardian feature writer and editor
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Longitudinal Perspectives on Fathers’ Residence Status, Time Allocation, and Testosterone in the Philippines
Past paternal psychobiology research has focused almost exclusively on biological, residential fathers and the role of fathers as direct caregivers.
Here, drawing on a large sample of Filipino men, we help to expand this research area by testing for relationships between fathers’ testosterone, prolactin, and weekly hours in work, childcare, and recreation. Using longitudinal data collected when men were an average of 21.5 and 26.
0 years old, we tested whether changes in fathers’ investments in childcare and work interrelated with testosterone changes. We also assessed whether fathers’ residence status affected paternal testosterone changes.
Cross-sectionally, we did not find evidence that fathers’ testosterone or prolactin varied work effort or weekly hours of childcare (all p > 0.1). Fathers who increased their weekly involvement in childcare between baseline and follow-up experienced declines in testosterone, on average (p 0.6). In a comparable model, there were no significant predictors of PRL (p > 0.9).
In contrast to the hypothesized moderating effect of fatherhood on hormonal-work correlations, we hypothesized that if our recreation variable relates to T and PRL, the slope would not vary parenting status.
For example, if T increases with recreation time, possibly due, in part, to male-male social interactions, we anticipate that this relationship would hold regardless of parenting status. In our AM T model, there was a significant main effect for time spent in recreation [β 0.24 (0.02, 0.45); p = 0.035; model R2 = 0.
021], but there was no significant main effect for fatherhood or the interaction between recreation hours X fatherhood (both p > 0.3). For PM T, there was a main effect of fatherhood status [β −29.44 (−52.84, −6.03); p = 0.014] but not for recreation or the interaction term (both p > 0.3).
There were no significant results in a comparable model for PRL (all p ≥ 0.1). Cross-sectional models predicting baseline T and PRL from fathers’ weekly hours of childcare were not significant (all p > 0.1).
We then tested for longitudinal relationships between changes in paternal care, work hours, and fathers’ ΔT (n = 104). We found no significant differences for fathers’ ΔAM or ΔPM T relative changes in their work hours over the study period (both p > 0.3).
Meanwhile, fathers’ who (relatively) increased their involvement in weekly care over the study period experienced larger declines in PM T over the same time period, compared to men whose relative caregiving decreased (p ≤ 0.01; Table 2; Fig. 3).
This finding remained significant (p 0.5).
Table 2 Predicting fathers’ longitudinal change (Δ) in PM T paternal care between baseline and follow-upa Fig. 3
Percentage (%) change in fathers’ evening (PM) testosterone (T) relative change in paternal care between baseline and follow-up. We present percentage change in PM T for visual purposes, but used absolute change in T in our models (see Table 2).
Change in paternal care z-score between baseline and follow-up indicates a change in care effort relative to peers (see Materials and Methods). Dark line = best fit linear relationship between percentage change in T and relative change in paternal care, [β −10.
95 (−18.94, −2.96); p = 0.008]
Expanding on the cross-sectional statistical comparisons in Table 1, we tested for longitudinal relationships between ΔT and transitions to fatherhood and stratified by residence status (for non-fathers at baseline) or changes in residence status (for men who were fathers at baseline) (n = 360).
In subsequent models, we controlled for covariates (partnering status, total sleep time, paternal care, number of children, and age of youngest child) that we hypothesized might contribute to or confound T differences between residential and non-residential fathers (Tables 3 and 4).
We used residential fathers (baseline and follow-up) as the comparison group, anticipating that their T would remain relatively stable over the follow-up period, excepting a modest age-related decline (Gettler et al. 2011a).
Men who transitioned from being non-fathers (baseline) to new residential fathers (follow-up) experienced significantly larger declines in AM and PM T relative to the comparison group (both p
Understand a Testosterone Brain by the Help of a Man’s Perspective
Picture this: You are dining with your man in a restaurant having a great time, and suddenly a woman in a skimpy dress passes by, and you notice your man tilting his head to get a better look at her butts and chest.
I’m sure this situation is no stranger to a woman.
Every woman has caught her husband or boyfriend doing this. Suddenly you get filled up with a surge of emotions, jealousy, pain, anger, and insecurity. Questions start running through your head; does he her more? Does he want her? Does he want to sleep with her? Is he leaving me?
Men to look
This familiar scenario is every woman’s nightmare. And the truth is men to look. Well if you have had such questions run through your mind and ruin your day, then we are here to help.
Keep on reading and find out what goes through a man’s head when he stares at another woman when his girl is right next to him.
Understand a testosterone-induced brain
In a man’s world, it is completely normal for a man to look at women. It is completely natural for him to look at other women while being in a relationship. Because their definition of what the look means differs from a female’s definition.
So what does “The Look” mean?
- He finds the girl attractive (physically)
- When he saw the girl, some chemicals were released in his brain, and that filled him with a surge of pleasure.
- A part of him wants her and wonders what it would be but in a completely innocent way.
This look is similar to the look woman give to Denzel Washington or George Clooney.
What “The Look” doesn’t mean:
- He finds the girl more beautiful than you
- He is not happy in the commitment with you anymore
- He is no longer happy with you
- He is no longer attracted to you or your body
- You no longer satisfy his needs
- You aren’t____ (skinny, sexy, hot attractive, loving, etc.) enough for him anymore
- He is unfaithful to you
- You should be mad at him or jealous at her or insecure about your body
- Your relationship is doomed.
To put it simply, him looking at the girl has nothing at all to do with you
The world has some beautiful sights such as the beaches, sunsets, and flowers. But just looking at these things does not make you unattractive similarly looking at a woman does not make you unattractive either.
Why men look at other women
For men, emotional connection and sexual attraction do not go together.
They can be attracted to a woman solely on a physical level and get turned on without feeling any kind of connection or compatibility with her.
Women get more attracted to men the level of familiarity.
The more connection and familiar they are with the guy, the more attracted they feel. However, men are attracted to novelty. They are drawn to new things and different features and types of body.
Men can be head-over-heels in love with their partner and still be attracted to someone passing by their dinner table.
When does this become a problem?
While it is normal for men to notice other women and admire them, there is a line of respect that a committed and mature man will not cross.
Looking at her is one thing, and staring is another. Staring can downright be extremely embarrassing and offensive.
As the girl passes by there will a momentary shift of eyes, but as the girl passes, it will end. If your man continues to turn his head back and stare more and more than it can be a problem. Staring blatantly, passing inappropriate comments, flirting, touching and cheating are some red flags you must look out for.
These signs indicate that your man is not mature and respectable enough to control himself or he doesn’t respect you enough. This kind of behavior can ruin your life and does not bode well for the future of your relationship.
How to deal with this issue?
Well as mentioned men have a habit of looking. However, to stop yourself from overthinking you will have to avoid assuming. Avoid reading too much into the problem. Remember what it means and what it doesn’t.
A glance does not mean he is betraying you.
Remember that all the women in his life he picked you. he chooses you to settle with and to love and to come home to every day. So say goodbye to being insecure and if this thing bothers you too much talk to your partner about it.
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Testosterone on the Brain
In 1992, Helen Fisher, an anthropologist at the American Museum of Natural History, wrote an opinion piece in The New York Times extolling the wonders of menopause.
She contended that a menopausal woman’s lower estrogen and slightly higher testosterone levels make her more assertive and aggressive in the workforce.
Or as she said, “the biological changes wrought by menopause will bolster their interest in power and increase their ability to use it.” The piece was headlined “Mighty Menopause.”
For those of us who have gone through menopause, we may not consider ourselves mighty. But aside from the menopausal implications, the article hinted that it was the testosterone that boosted confidence.
So what’s the deal? Does testosterone help or hurt in the workforce? Fisher’s opinion piece from 20 years ago didn’t refer to any scientific studies, though there were plenty of testosterone studies by that time, mainly in rats and dogs. A new hormone study in Psychological Science with a headline-grabbing title, “Single Dose Testosterone Administration Impairs Cognitive Reflection in Men,” may shed some light.
The latest study was 243 men, mostly college students. About half the men rubbed testosterone on themselves; the rest got placebo gel. About four hours later—when the full impact of the hormone would be felt—they all took a three-question Cognitive Reflection Test. The testosterone-gel group scored 20 percent lower. That is, they were more ly to give the knee-jerk wrong responses.
Here’s one question: “In a lake, there is a patch of lily pads. Every day, the patch doubles in size. If it takes 48 days for the patch to cover the entire lake, how long would it take for the patch to cover half of the lake?”
Even if you have no clue about math, you probably realize that the right answer can’t be 24, for the reason that it seems too obvious. But about 20 percent of the testosterone-gel group gave that response—compared to 10 percent of the placebo group.
Gideon Nave, one of the investigators and an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania, said the study does not mean that testosterone-laden men are stupider than the rest of us, though one female journalist really wanted to report that. (Not me, by the way).
The research, he said in an email, “links testosterone to intuitive (versus deliberate) decision making.”
Here’s what grabbed me about the study. I’ve read a trove of testosterone and behavior studies.
I’ve heard from friends who say all sorts of things about the impact of their testosterone gel on their personality, which may be wishful thinking.
Some credit their daily testosterone schmear with boosting confidence and clearing their aging foggy heads. (That’s the same thing men said in the 1920s when vasectomies were touted to do that same thing.)
The underlying message of the new study is not necessarily that testosterone makes you jump to the wrong conclusion. I just can’t believe a 3-question survey tells us exactly what this complex hormone does. But here’s what it suggests. It says that this hormone may impact your thinking in ways you really don’t want.
And if so, it’s buyer beware. Despite the barrage of advertisements coaxing middle-aged men to rub or inject testosterone, this is one decision you do not want to be impulsive about. If your testosterone is truly low, then sure, bring it back to the normal ranges.
But if it you’re looking for a boost of confidence, you may want to try some non-hormonal options.
As for the lily pad question, the answer is 47. The thoughtful (read: non-impulsive) way to do it was to work backwards. If the pond if full on day 48, and if the lily pads double every day, then just one day earlier, the pond would be half full.
As for vasectomies: They don’t boost libido. The 1920s fad faded as most bogus medical claims eventually do.
And as for menopausal women: We are needed in the workforce. Not because estrogen is lower, or testosterone is higher, but just because we’ve got the experience and the know-how.
For further reading:
Last Sunday, a New York Times opinion piece aptly titled “Men Can Be So Hormonal,” pointed to this study and others that may explain the biological underpinnings. One study found that men with higher testosterone levels had less activity in the frontal lobe, the part of the brain responsible for decision-making.
Watch Nave and his co-investigator deliberate about the study, here’s a link to a video.
And if you want to read a thorough analysis of hormones on the brain: pick up a copy of Brainstorm: The Flaws in the Science of Sex Differences, by Rebecca Jordan-Young.