Mothers' and fathers' joint profiles for testosterone and oxytocin in a small-scale fishing-farming community: Variation based on marital conflict and paternal contributions

Lee T. Gettler, Mallika S. Sarma, Sheina Lew-Levy, Angela Bond, Benjamin C. Trumble, Adam H. Boyette

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Introduction: Testosterone and oxytocin are psychobiological mechanisms that interrelate with relationship quality between parents and the quantity and quality of parenting behaviors, thereby affecting child outcomes. Their joint production based on family dynamics has rarely been tested, particularly cross-culturally. Methods: We explored family function and salivary testosterone and oxytocin in mothers and fathers in a small-scale, fishing-farming society in Republic of the Congo. Fathers ranked one another in three domains of family life pertaining to the local cultural model of fatherhood. Results: Fathers who were viewed as better providers had relatively lower oxytocin and higher testosterone than men seen as poorer providers, who had lower testosterone and higher oxytocin. Fathers also had higher testosterone and lower oxytocin in marriages with more conflict, while those who had less marital conflict had reduced testosterone and higher oxytocin. In contrast, mothers in conflicted marriages showed the opposite profiles of relatively lower testosterone and higher oxytocin. Mothers had higher oxytocin and lower testosterone if fathers were uninvolved as direct caregivers, while mothers showed an opposing pattern for the two hormones if fathers were seen as involved with direct care. Conclusions: These results shed new light on parents' dual oxytocin and testosterone profiles in a small-scale society setting and highlight the flexibility of human parental psychobiology when fathers' roles and functions within families differ across cultures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere01367
JournalBrain and Behavior
Volume9
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2019

Keywords

  • androgens
  • cross-cultural comparison
  • endocrine system
  • family health
  • hormones
  • interparental conflict
  • parenting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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