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HIGH TESTOSTERONE LINKED TO
CRIMES OF SEX, VIOLENCE

Men, in general, are much more aggressive than women -- a fact that has led researchers to investigate possible links between levels of male hormones (particularly testosterone) and aggressive or criminal behavior.

James Dabbs, Jr., studied 4,462 men in 1990 and found that "the overall picture among the high-testosterone men is one of delinquency, substance abuse and a tendency toward excess." These men, he added, "have more trouble with people like teachers while they are growing up, have more sexual partners, are more likely to have gone AWOL in the service and to have used hard drugs," particularly if they had poor educations and low incomes. A separate study by Dabbs of young male prison inmates found that high testosterone levels were associated with more violent crimes, parole board decisions against release, and more prison rule violations. Even in women, Dabbs found, high testosterone levels were related to crimes of unprovoked violence, increased numbers of prior charges, and decisions against parole.

The latest study by Dabbs et al., which pooled data from two groups of prisoners, measured testosterone levels in the saliva of 692 adult male prisoners. The researchers found that inmates who committed crimes of sex and violence had higher testosterone levels than inmates who were incarcerated for property crimes or drug abuse. In addition, they say, "inmates with higher testosterone levels... violated more rules in prison, especially rules involving overt confrontation."

Dabbs et al. say that "the variety of rule violations suggests the behavior of high testosterone individuals reflects intractability, unmanageability, and lack of docility as well as aggression and violence."

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"Testosterone, crime, and misbehavior among 692 male prison inmates," James M. Dabbs, Jr., et al., Person. individ. Diff., Vol. 18, No. 5, 1995. Address: James M. Dabbs, Jr., Dept. of Psychology, Georgia State University, University Plaza, Atlanta, GA 30303- 3083.

Related Articles: [1995, Vol. 4] [1997, Vol. 3] [2000, Vol. 6]