Androgen Dynamics in the Context of Children's Peer Relations: An Examination of the Links Between Testosterone and Peer Victimization

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Abstract

Testosterone levels have been shown to decrease in the face of social defeat in several mammalian species. Among humans, the loss of social status has been studied primarily in the context of athletic competition, with winners having higher testosterone levels than losers. This study examined testosterone levels in relation to peer victimization (bullying) in a sample of 151 boys and girls aged 12-13. Statistically controlling for age and pubertal status, results indicated that on average verbally bullied girls produced less testosterone and verbally bullied boys produced more testosterone than their nonbullied counterparts. Similar trends were evident comparing social and physical bullying with testosterone. Sex differences are discussed in terms of empirically validated differences in coping styles, as girls tend to internalize, whereas boys tend to externalize, their abuse.

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