Heroes, Rogues, and Lovers: Testosterone and Behavior (Anglais) Broché – 1 août 2001
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Factoids like "men with high testoterone are more aggressive, and more likely to beat their wives etc. etc." didn't give me much to chew on. I did enjoy the statistic that shows that high level corporate types who have successfully clawed their way to the top are not necessarily high in testosterone, though they might think they are... (they actually "relationship" their way up -- which should be good news for women execs). I thought about the execs I know and laughed.
What an interesting ecclectic book. Where to place it on my shelves? Next to the self help books such as 'Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus'? With the biology and ethology books? Or with my old social psychology books from my college days. Or possibly even in the poetry and literature section. People from all walks of life will find this to be a charming intelligent book about the influence of testosterone on animal and human behavior void of snobbery that so often infects academic works. I especially liked the folksy anecdotes about people and animals that add warmth and color to the book.
Now here's an idea for a commercial offshoot to this work: Would it be possible to produce a testosterone self-test kit similar to pregnancy test kits available in the drug store? If testosterone proves to be such a potent factor in how people get along, well think of the possibilities. Parents of dating-age daughters could screen prospective boyfriends and at least raise warning flags about boys with high testosterone. It could be used on a personal basis as a tool to better understand oneself by tracking fluctuations that possibly lead to mood swings. Speaking personally, when I was divorced a few years ago, my body and brain chemistry went bonkers for a few months, affecting my preferences in books, music, TV programs, and on and on. I suddenly lost interest in sports such as football. Gradually, I reverted back to my old obnoxious male sports-oriented self. Was this due to a testosterone swing?
I'm looking forward to further research about testosterone and other chemicals that affect our behavior, especially as it applies to the gender wars. The thriving divorce industry suggests a dire need for research that helps us better understand and overcome gender differences. Can't we all just get along?
Speaking of the divorce industry, the research comparing trial lawyers to non-trial lawyers was very interesting. Could I venture a hypothesis that matrimonial lawyers will register highest of all lawyer groups on the rogue, er, testosterone scale?
For much of the book, Dabbs opines negatively of high testosterone men. High testosterone has lost its place in modern society, he argues. More successful and educated white color workers have lower testosterone levels than less educated, lower income but higher testosterone blue color workers. Towards the end, however, he raises the specter of channeling the effects of this powerful hormone to positive outcomes such as altruism and heroism. Proper upbringing and social activities can curb the negative tendencies of high testosterone individuals.
In the epilogue, Dabbs admits to the complexity of nature vs. nature analytics and the extent to which testosterone influences behavior. But certain assertions are "clearly established" he claims: Testosterone increases muscle strength, sexual activity, delinquency and marital instability. Other connections, which he claims are less certain include occupation choice, e.g. actors and athletes have high testosterone levels, sex differences, e.g. women maintain lasting relationships while men drop strong loyalties when they change jobs or sports teams, and the nature of heroism and altruism. This is the area the author dabbles in the most, and unfortunately, because of the lack of depth, Dabbs' arguments are not presented in a convincing or thoughtful way.
Robert M. Sapolskly accomplishes in one chapter of his book "The Trouble With Tetosterone" more than Dabbs' entire book.