Testosterone Does NOT Impair Empathy In Men

Discussion in 'Scientific Studies' started by haidut, Sep 19, 2019.

  1. haidut

    haidut Member

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    I am sure most readers are quite familiar with the cliche that testosterone (T) is what drives stereotypical "boy behavior" - aggressiveness, carelessness, impulsive behavior, risk taking, cheating, and of course the militaristic attitude characterized by lack of (or reduced) empathy. As I mentioned in several previous posts, most of these behaviors seem to be driven by stress hormones like cortisol and estrogen, while T seems to have a more or less opposite effect than what the stereotype describes.
    https://raypeatforum.com/community/threads/cheating-is-driven-by-cortisol-not-testosterone.28616/
    https://raypeatforum.com/community/threads/the-stereotypes-about-testosterone-t-are-likely-wrong.30079/

    This new study combines the results of two intervention trials and concludes that T does not impair empathy. The reason this study holds much more water than previous ones is that it actually administered T to the test subjects, and as such can distinguish between correlation and causality. In fact, it used several different doses to determine if T has dose-related effects - i.e. maybe it does not impair empathy in lower doses but does so in higher doses. Yet, no such effect was discovered and the study concludes that other observational trials claiming that T drives stereotypical male behavior are "statistically underpowered". I think a much more accurate statement would be that those studies were fraudulent or at the very least cleverly manipulated (p-hacking anyone?) to demonstrate the desired effect. Namely, that high T is undesirable for males because it makes them unruly, stubborn, aggressive, etc. Of course, the suggested remedy is estrogen and that has been administered to men for decades as part of the "chemical castration" therapy for prostate cancer, or unknowingly to males in the entire population in the form of estrogenic, anti-thyroid endocrine disruptors (e.g. BPA, gossypol, etc) in the food/water supply. We all know how well that went...and actually still keeps going despite the evidence that T actually cures even very advanced prostate cancer.

    https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rspb.2019.1062

    "...The capacity to infer others' mental states (known as ‘mind reading’ and ‘cognitive empathy’) is essential for social interactions across species, and its impairment characterizes psychopathological conditions such as autism spectrum disorder and schizophrenia. Previous studies reported that testosterone administration impaired cognitive empathy in healthy humans, and that a putative biomarker of prenatal testosterone exposure (finger digit ratios) moderated the effect. However, empirical support for the relationship has relied on small sample studies with mixed evidence. We investigate the reliability and generalizability of the relationship in two large-scale double-blind placebo-controlled experiments in young men (n = 243 and n = 400), using two different testosterone administration protocols. We find no evidence that cognitive empathy is impaired by testosterone administration or associated with digit ratios. With an unprecedented combined sample size, these results counter current theories and previous high-profile reports, and demonstrate that previous investigations of this topic have been statistically underpowered."
     
  2. schultz

    schultz Member

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    In these old papers showing T impairs cognitive empathy, how did they control for estrogen? Or did they?
     
  3. OP
    haidut

    haidut Member

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    They did not, AFAIK. In fact, many of these older studies were observational but they claimed to control for most variables outside of T, which I highly doubt. That's what makes these two recent studies so important. They are among the few that were randomized, blinded and interventional. Adding to that the studies on estrogen being the primary driver of territoriality, aggression, female-hoarding, selfishness, etc in male animals I have little doubt that the whole T-bashing is based on ideas just as incompetent/corrupt as the as the theories that it causes prostate cancer or balding in men.
     
  4. sladerunner69

    sladerunner69 Member

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    Great post, thanks haidut! Now what about low dose testosterone supplementation. Is this a viable long term strategy for optimizing health?
     
  5. Tarmander

    Tarmander Member

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    Go back a couple hundred years before the discovery of T, E, and the endocrine system in general. In a naturally high T individual, was there any way to separate E's effect from T's effect? Didn't those two always attend the opera together anyways?
     
  6. baccheion

    baccheion Member

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    There's a huge difference between higher and high testosterone. Higher dopamine = mild euphoria and assertiveness. High dopamine = aggression. High dopamine also spills over into agonism of adrenergic receptors.

    Testosterone effectively does nothing and is mainly a marker for downstream metabolites.
     
  7. redsun

    redsun Member

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    Testosterone does nothing? You sure about that? Yeh there are downstream metabolites from T but that doesn't mean T does nothing on it's own.

    Depends on the health of the individual among other things. Was excessive or even mild amounts of aromatase a problem in men a couple hundred years ago? Probably not. High T men back then were just that, high T men and it's not a stretch to say men were healthier hundreds of years ago and therefore had less estrogen.
     
  8. OP
    haidut

    haidut Member

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    I think it would be great if combined with pregnenolone/progesterone/DHEA. T inhibits 17,20-lyase and as such can cause relative deficiency in these precursor steroids. But combined with them it can be a great anti-aging and anti-catabolic strategy. As I mentioned in other threads, higher ratio progesterone:DHEA may be able to provide most of the benefits of T and we are currently doing some tests to see if that pans out. It it does then it would be great news as it means age-related decline in steroids, and associated mood/activity declines as well, can be entirely remediated with OTC chemicals.
     
  9. schultz

    schultz Member

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    I imagine it depends on the country/region/time of the year. Winters may have been stressful for certain areas. Ideal conditions may have produced healthy high T and low E males. I may be making this up because it's been a while since I read it, but I think I remember Weston Price talking about the Polynesians as being very kind and happy all the time. Abundant food, sunshine, great weather all year.

    In Michael Crichton's book "Eaters of the Dead", the first three chapters of which are based on Ahmad ibn Fadlan's actual experience with a certain group of Vikings, I remember him talking about how the Viking males were happy and smiling all the time and they seemed to find even violence to be funny and were lighthearted about it. Again, like the Price book, it's been a while since I read the Crichton book, and I don't know how accurate his description is, but if it's true then these particular Vikings weren't grumpy, brooding men, but kind of happy-go-lucky men who also happened to not fear violence and possibly even death. Sounds like high T, low E to me!
     
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