ANALYZING TESTOSTERONE, CORTISOL, ESTROGEN, AND PROGESTERONE AS PREDICTORS OF SOCIOSEXUALITY

Open Access
Author:
Makkar, Steven Lucas
Area of Honors:
Anthropology
Degree:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis
Thesis Supervisors:
  • David Andrew Puts, Thesis Supervisor
  • Timothy Michael Ryan, Honors Advisor
Keywords:
  • testosterone
  • sociosexuality
  • estrogen
  • progesterone
  • cortisol
  • SOI-R
Abstract:
In various species, males are more eager to mate than females. Across human cultures, men are also consistently found to have a less restricted sociosexuality (stronger interest in casual sex) than do women. Testosterone promotes male-typical behavior, but the extent to which adult testosterone concentrations mediate sociosexuality in humans is still actively studied. Previous research showed evidence for a negative feedback loop wherein elevated testosterone levels promoted sociosexuality, and successful sexual behavior decreased testosterone. Meanwhile, cortisol exhibits a masking effect against testosterone, an idea sometimes referred to as the “dual-hormone” hypothesis. Other steroid hormones, estrogen and progesterone, have been associated with sociosexuality in women. To delve deeper into these hormones’ activity, we examined SOI survey data and salivary hormone levels in men and women. For men, we gathered testosterone and cortisol levels; and for women – separated into those taking hormonal contraception (HC women) and those naturally cycling (NC women) – we also gathered estrogen and progesterone. Our data did not replicate previous studies showing evidence for a negative feedback loop, nor did we find evidence supporting the dual-hormone hypothesis. When other hormone concentrations were statistically controlled, SOI psychology and testosterone were positively associated in NC women. This study highlights the complex relationship between steroid hormones and sociosexuality.