Fatherhood, pairbonding and testosterone in the Philippines.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

In species with a high level of paternal care, including humans, testosterone (T) is believed to help mediate the trade-off between parenting and mating effort. This hypothesis is supported by the observation of lower T in pairbonded men or fathers compared to single, non-fathers; however, prior work has highlighted population variation in the association between T and pairbonding or fatherhood status. Here we evaluate this hypothesis in a large (n=890), representative birth cohort of young men (age range 20.5-22.5 years) living in Cebu City, the Philippines. Bioavailable T was measured in saliva collected prior to bed and immediately upon waking the following morning. Plasma T and luteinizing hormone (LH) were measured in morning plasma samples. In this sample, 20% of men were pairbonded, defined as living with a partner or married, 13% were fathers, and roughly half of fathers reported involvement in childcare. Pairbonded men had significantly lower T at both times of day. Unlike in other populations, this relationship was accounted for entirely by fatherhood status: among the large sub-sample of non-fathers, mean T was nearly identical among pairbonded and single men. There was a strong association between self-reported involvement in childcare and lower evening T, supporting the idea that the evening nadir in T is related to social interactions across the day. Similar relationships were found for total plasma T and LH, suggesting that these relationships are coordinated by centrally-mediated changes in LH secretion. The relatively modest T difference in relation to fatherhood at Cebu, in comparison to other studies, may reflect a lower level of paternal involvement in childcare activities in this population. Our findings using a large, well-characterized birth cohort support the hypothesized role of T as a mediator of mating and parenting effort in humans, while contributing evidence for cultural variation in the relative importance of pairbonding and fathering to these relationships.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Kuzawa, CW; Gettler, LT; Muller, MN; McDade, TW; Feranil, AB

Published Date

  • October 2009

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 56 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 429 - 435

PubMed ID

  • 19651129

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC2855897

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1095-6867

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2009.07.010


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States