Testosterone’s Surprising Link to Men’s ‘Love Hormone’ Oxytocin, Part 1
After Testosterone Blast of Hunting, Men’s ‘Love Hormone’ Rises When They Return Home
Testosterone. It fuels the drive of hunters, athletes, traders in the financial markets and other so-called “Alpha males.”
And regardless of their differences, they all tend to have one thing in common: they are all ultra-competitive and possess an almost superhuman drive to succeed.
As a result of this drive, their testosterone levels are off-the-charts, primarily when they are engaged in the high-level competition of their brutally Darwinist fields.
But There is Another Side to This Story
The Chinese call it Yin/Yang.
In Viking times, it was called Fire/Ice.
The ancient Greeks called it “The Golden Mean.”
Regardless of the name, the fundamental concept remains the same today: balance, including mental, physical and emotional aspects, is something that we all need, and strive for, at times unconsciously.
And it is just as relevant today as it was thousands of years ago.
Fascinating New Research
A new study explores the nurturing, familial side of men who pursue primal activities, often to support their families.
It finds that that side, too, is expressed hormonally, when a man brings dinner home to his family (or perhaps money or a trophy).
The results of the study were surprising, and a bit unexpected.
The more a man’s testosterone has risen in his choice of hardcore male activity, the more the “love hormone” oxytocin tends to surge upon coming home, researchers have found.
The researchers also discovered that the longer his workday, the higher his oxytocin levels are when he returns to his family.
Previous studies have shown that oxytocin makes people more cooperative while testosterone has the opposite effect.
That finding, which was one of the first to measure oxytocin release in a naturalistic setting, emerged after anthropologists from University of California, Santa Barbara shadowed male members of an Amerindian tribe in the Amazon Basin of Bolivia as they hunted for food.
To conduct the study, UCSB anthropologist Benjamin C. Trumble joined the hunters as they went out into the jungle and attempted to make a kill to feed their families.
The 31 men studied were members of the Tsimane hunter-gatherer tribe of Bolivia.
Trumble collected salivary samples (spit) from the hunters, first as they departed on their day long, and often solitary hunts; again after their first chance to bag a prey animal; and finally, shortly after they returned home.
The oxytocin was measured in the UCSB Human Biodemography Laboratory.
Published in the Royal Society’s Biology Letters, the resulting findings discovered (much to their surprise) that men whose “day job” drove their testosterone highest also experienced the highest levels of oxytocin when they came home.
The team also found that high testosterone levels while hunting could be attributed to a "winner effect" experienced by men making a kill.
The increased oxytocin could serve as a balance to make the hunters kinder, more generous and more willing to share their bounty.
At first glance, this does indeed seem strange.
Testosterone and oxytocin are antagonistic, said UCSB anthropologist Adrian V. Jaeggi, co-lead author: Though high levels of testosterone are usually associated with aggressive, drive-for-dominance behavior, bursts of oxytocin are linked to sharing, cooperation, trust, and tenderness.
'Our goal was to look at the interaction between different hormones in motivating behavior in a naturalistic context,' said Jaeggi.
'Hunting for subsistence and sharing meat is something people have done for hundreds of thousands of years.'
The needs of the social group may demand that a man who has demonstrated aggression all day find a way to reintegrate with his kin and share his food.
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