Testosterone Levels Are Negatively Associated with Childlessness in Males, but Positively Related to Offspring Count in Fathers

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Abstract

Variation in testosterone (T) is thought to affect the allocation of effort between reproductive and parenting strategies. Here, using a large sample of elderly American men (n = 754) and women (n = 669) we examined the relationship between T and self-reported parenthood, as well as the relationship between T and number of reported children. Results supported previous findings from the literature, showing that fathers had lower T levels than men who report no children. Furthermore, we found that among fathers T levels were positively associated with the number of children a man reports close to the end of his lifespan. Results were maintained when controlling for a number of relevant factors such as time of T sampling, participant age, educational attainment, BMI, marital status and reported number of sex partners. In contrast, T was not associated with either motherhood or the number of children women had, suggesting that, at least in this sample, T does not influence the allocation of effort between reproductive and parenting strategies among women. Findings from this study contribute to the growing body of literature suggesting that, among men, pair bonding and paternal care are associated with lower T levels, while searching and acquiring sex partners is associated with higher T levels. © 2013 Pollet et al.

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Pollet, T. V., Cobey, K. D., & van der Meij, L. (2013). Testosterone Levels Are Negatively Associated with Childlessness in Males, but Positively Related to Offspring Count in Fathers. PLoS ONE, 8(4). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0060018

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