Preliminary evidence that testosterone's association with aggression depends on self-construal

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A contribution to a special issue on Hormones and Human Competition.Previous research and theory suggest testosterone is an important hormone for modulating aggression and self-regulation. We propose that self-construal, a culturally-relevant difference in how individuals define the self in relation to others, may be an important moderator of the relationship between testosterone and behaviors linked to aggression. Within two studies (Study 1 N = 80; Study 2 N = 237) and an integrated data analysis, we find evidence suggesting that acute testosterone changes in men are positively associated with aggressive behavior for those with more independent self-construals, whereas basal testosterone is negatively associated with aggression when individuals have more interdependent self-construals. Although preliminary, these findings suggest that self-construal moderates the association between testosterone and aggression, thereby paving the way toward future work examining the potential cultural moderation of the behavioral effects of testosterone.HighlightsSelf-construal moderates how men's testosterone is associated with aggression.Basal testosterone negatively predicted aggression in interdependent men.Testosterone reactivity to competition predicted aggression in independent men.These findings suggest cultural differences may alter how testosterone is linked with behavior.

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