New Study Suggests Testosterone Increases as Anger Rises

Steroid use is believed to cause rage, commonly referred to as “Roid Rage.” But a new study suggests that the anger resulting from increased levels of testosterone may actually merely be a means to an end. “The link between aggression and testosterone has sparked the interest of many kinds of people, from a fan wondering whether anabolic steroids might be responsible for his favorite athlete’s wild antics to the scientist hypothesizing about the biological processes involved in violence,” said Carly K. Peterson and Eddie Harmon-Jones, researchers from Texas A&M University and authors of the study. “Instead, researchers now believe that testosterone plays a role in a broader picture involving power and dominance as opposed to aggression per se. That is, testosterone may facilitate behaviors aimed at obtaining and maintaining power and dominance. It is possible testosterone relates to aggression only because aggression can be one of many ways that people attempt to exert control over others.”

The researchers enlisted 43 students for their study and took saliva samples at the beginning of the study to measure cortisol and testosterone levels. The students were given a neutral activity for 5 minutes, followed by a stressful, competitive virtual game. They were led to believe they were competing with other people and the game was designed so that the students were included during the play for half of the game, and completely ostracized for the other half, causing them to experience heightened emotional arousal. At the end of the game, the students measured their emotions. Within fifteen minutes of the game ending, the team collected a second saliva sample. The results revealed that anger was the only emotion that was linked to increases in testosterone. The team believes that the participants needed to be included and dominate the game as a result of higher levels of testosterone. They added, “Although we believe that a motivation to regain control may assist in explaining the observed correlation between self-reported anger and testosterone, future research is necessary to elucidate the precise mechanisms underlying the link between anger and testosterone.”

Reference:
Peterson, C. K., & Harmon-Jones, E. (2011, September 12). Anger and Testosterone: Evidence That Situationally-Induced Anger Relates to Situationally-Induced Testosterone. Emotion. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0025300

© Copyright 2011 by By John Smith. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • ross

    September 21st, 2011 at 11:25 AM

    I would think testosterone is very much connected to anger. its basically like the ancient man’s hormone, the cave man, the fighter, the hunter. it is what makes us wild in more ways than one. so I’m not surprised at this finding at all!

  • Marissa

    September 21st, 2011 at 12:22 PM

    And we are surprised by this because. . .?

  • Amber Swackenzlen

    September 23rd, 2011 at 3:56 PM

    Anger is strongly associated with physical strain especially violence. After all two guys don’t starting throwing punches in a bar because they are happy. The body is taking extra precautions in case violence does erupt. The emotion of anger is probably like a little warning sign in the body that danger may be coming. This works similar for fear.

    When you experience the emotion of fear, adrenaline starts pumping through the body. At the same time your body will most likely increase testosterone levels if your fear is always high.

  • Lori

    October 5th, 2016 at 7:44 AM

    Can someone help? My husband has started replacement therapy. 4 injections. He has extreme fits of anger over really small things. Out of control yelling and the inability to let it go. Of course he denies the change and says he feels better because of the shots. We are familiar to his anger, he has been through treatment twice trying to deal with it. I am so concerned, this is not the man I married 7 years ago. I suggested that I report my concerns to his Dr. He is fearful that she will change his dose or discontinue all together. Will this get better with time? Any input is appreciated.

  • Phil

    June 28th, 2017 at 2:12 AM

    My advice is to leave him. T makes men violent.

  • David

    August 9th, 2017 at 8:13 PM

    As someone getting ready for hormone replacement, who has suffered from blinding rages, yes, there is hope. It will require some work from your husband, but I’d recommend one of two techniques.

    1. Burn off the rage through physical activity (I did weight lifting).

    2. Control the rage through active meditation. By active meditation, I mean have him sit, call up the rage in his mind, and just let it flow. Don’t speak, just sit and rage until he can turn it on or off at will.

  • Dave

    August 23rd, 2018 at 1:33 PM

    Lori,
    Please don’t listen to Phil (the comment directly below yours). Should a man leave a woman every month because she’s hormonal and on her period? Or worse; when she’s Pregnant? Of course not. Your husband is dealing with a huge swing of hormones that he doesn’t know how to deal with. He just needs to get used to it and learn how to cope with his new T levels.

    The suggestion to do physical excercise is a great suggestion! That’s a good way to channel the energy. As is sex.

    Good luck!
    -Dave

  • john

    November 22nd, 2019 at 4:03 PM

    i started talking pure creatine for a moth now and my levels of testorone has increase because i could last longer in the gym and my muscle has increase in a very short period one thing that i dont like is the i get angry very fast and it gets to the point i cant control it at the moment

  • BT

    November 23rd, 2020 at 3:30 AM

    Very informative

  • Amy

    December 17th, 2020 at 5:58 PM

    Rage is something that needs to be addressed no differently than if a woman’s hormone swings are such that need medical intervention to regulate. If you are in danger during a rage episode get out and get safe. He needs to deal with and seek serious help for his rage issues. Don’t stick around to be anybody’s emotional or physical punching bag. T may be part of the problem but controlling rage has a lot more to it than “turning a blind eye”. If there’s rage and it’s aggressive or violent have a safe place to go, set solid boundaries and find support.

  • Vaju

    July 18th, 2021 at 10:32 PM

    I am less than 20 yo. My Testosterone levels are way too high. Its like 450 and up to 600 amount probably (idk). About every week the level of it increases and it makes me frustrated, angry, rude, and rage. It has been tough to have too much of it. It has brought so many challenges, such as not able to sleep, angry, aggressive, rude, negative, hard to think clearly, high blood pressure, too much hair in the wrong places, pain in different places, drains energy and makes me tired, overclocks, gives a desire to play competitive games, and more. Its terrible! I hate Testosterone. Will be trying to get estrogen prescribed to lower it.

  • matthiu23

    July 22nd, 2021 at 2:00 AM

    i was just playing chess and made stupid moves that made me angry. it made me want to go lift weights and i felt more powerful. i also noticed when i worked at this job that involved lifting that when i got angry i went into hulk mode and could move heavy weights a lot easier but i had to embrace the anger and take it out on the weight.. i couldnt be calm and peaceful and still do it.. so i think in my personal opinion that anger increases testosterone and helps you do physical things.

  • sonya

    October 1st, 2021 at 7:34 AM

    I was worried when my husband said his doctor was putting him on T injections, I had heard horrible stories about mood swings, he has been on them about 6 months and now its to the point I am starting to get scared of him. He is so angry over the smallest things and if i try and talk to him about it he says I am being emotional and carrying my feelings on my shoulders. Every night for the past 2 weeks he has started yelling at me over the craziest things last night it was poached eggs and he got out raged to the point i thought he was gonna hit me instead he broke stuff. He says he has not changed at all its me. I dont know what to do, he has had strokes in the past and now has a heart monitar he also gives himself the injection that his Dr. prescribed so I have know idea if he is abusing it are not. He gets crazy bouts of energy and exspects me to jump up and help him do whatever he is doing and if i dont feel like it I am lazy and need to excercise. I am at my wits end its just a matter of time before he gets violent with me.

  • Philip

    October 3rd, 2021 at 2:34 AM

    I took testosterone back in the 1990’s. I took it illegally. I’d go down to Tijuana or Encinada and get it (I was living in California).
    Even on just one Sostenon 250, I had mood swings and a totally different demeanor. I was not in my right mind on that stuff. I think it eventually led to my bipolar symptoms.
    Lady, if I were you, I would get the hell out of there if you can. It’s only going to get worse, at least until he gets used to the stuff (and that could take years). Be very nice to him and agree with him and don’t let him know and be on his side and be gone the first chance you get.

    The politicians who made testosterone legal had no idea what they were doing. Seriously.

  • T

    October 4th, 2021 at 7:00 PM

    @Sonja I am having much the same problems in my home. I am on eggshells everyday. I can hardly say a word and my husband says it’s all me. He says he “feels better” on T and if I want him to stop, then I don’t care about his health. The whole reason he started it was to lose weight, which it has not helped and then he tells me that he can never stop it now that he has started. What?! And also, he is screaming that I don’t love him and I am not honoring my wedding vows and he wants to have 20 year old romance like back in the day…we’re almost 60, this is a recipe for disaster.

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