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Aggression – The Psychology of Aggression

3. Testosterone

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In this module, we think about the hormonal mechanisms involved in aggressive behaviour, focussing in particular on the role of testosterone. We begin by discussing the fact that men generally show a greater degree of physically aggressive behaviour than women and how this may point to a relationship between high levels of testosterone and increased aggression. Next, we examine a study by Dabbs et al. (1990) which seems to confirm this suggestion, whilst also considering some criticisms of their findings. We then consider how the fluctuation of testosterone levels in certain contexts, e.g. in a competitive situation, can have an impact on aggressive behaviour.


In this course, Dr Claire Lawrence (University of Nottingham) discusses the psychology of aggression and aggressive behaviour. We begin, in module one, by thinking about the genetic basis for aggression, associated with the so-called ‘warrior gene’ MAOA. Next, we think about the neural and hormonal mechanisms involved in aggressive behaviour, focussing on the role of serotonin in module two and testosterone in module three. The fourth module considers how Social Learning Theory can help us to understand aggression as a learned behaviour, while module five focusses on the Frustration-Aggression Hypothesis as a social psychological model which argues that frustration, the feeling of having our goals thwarted, is a key factor in causing aggressive behaviour.


Claire Lawrence is an Associate Professor in the School of Psychology at the University of Nottingham.

She works predominantly in the area of individual differences and her research centres around the question: Why do some people act aggressively in some situations, and other people don't? She also examines whether some antisocial traits have benefits in a sexual selection context.

Her second main area of research is the unintended and negative impacts of behavioural interventions.

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APA style

Lawrence, C. (2019, September 27). Aggression – The Psychology of Aggression - Testosterone [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Lawrence, C. "Aggression – The Psychology of Aggression – Testosterone." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 27 Sep 2019,

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