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 Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. 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

    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

    Marissa

    September 21st, 2011 at 12:22 PM

    And we are surprised by this because. . .?

  • Amber Swackenzlen

    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

    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

    Phil

    June 28th, 2017 at 2:12 AM

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

  • David

    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

    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

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