Summary: Men with higher levels of testosterone and DHEA in blood and saliva samples had weaker religious ties than those with lower levels of the same sex hormones, a new study reports.
The level of sex hormones such as testosterone in a man’s body could influence his religiosity. A new study by Aniruddha Das of McGill University in Canada in Springer’s journal Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology now adds to the growing body of evidence that religiosity is not only influenced by upbringing or psychological makeup, but physiological factors could also play a role.
Das analysed data extracted from the 2005-2006 and 2010-2011 waves of the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project (NSHAP). This national study was set up to collect information from older American adults (aged 57-85 at baseline). Participants completed questionnaires in their homes in which they were asked about how often they attended religious services, and whether they had a clergy member in their core social network. Information was also gathered about participants’ weight and health, while saliva and blood samples were collected and later examined.
From the analysis of over 1000 men, Das found that men with higher levels of the sex hormones testosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) in their bodies had weaker religious ties.
“Religion influences a range of cultural and political patterns at the population level. Results from the current study indicate the latter may also have hormonal roots,” says Das. “There is therefore a need for conceptual models that can accommodate the dynamic interplay of psychosocial and neuroendocrine factors in shaping a person’s life cycle.”
He believes that more studies should be done to better understand how hormones, in particular, shape a person’s religious patterns in later life. This is of importance, as religion has been shown to have a positive influence on how people age and ultimately experience their later years. According to Das, the findings further point to biological reasons behind the particular personal networks and social affiliations that people form during the course of their lives.
“Without systematic exploration of these linkages, life course theory remains incomplete and potentially inaccurate,” adds Das. “More research is therefore needed on the reasons why androgen levels influence a person’s religious connections, and on the role that hormones play in structuring the life trajectories of older people.”
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Source:Springer Publisher: Organized by NeuroscienceNews.com. Image Source: NeuroscienceNews.com image is credited to Michael S. Helfenbein. Original Research: Open access research for “Are Men’s Religious Ties Hormonally Regulated?” by Aniruddha Das in Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology. Published May 30 2018. doi:10.1007/s40750-018-0094-3
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[cbtabs][cbtab title=”MLA”]Springer “Older Men with Higher Levels of Sex Hormones Could Be Less Religious.” NeuroscienceNews. NeuroscienceNews, 3 June 2018. <https://neurosciencenews.com/dhea-testosterone-religion-men-9224/>.[/cbtab][cbtab title=”APA”]Springer (2018, June 3). Older Men with Higher Levels of Sex Hormones Could Be Less Religious. NeuroscienceNews. Retrieved June 3, 2018 from https://neurosciencenews.com/dhea-testosterone-religion-men-9224/[/cbtab][cbtab title=”Chicago”]Springer “Older Men with Higher Levels of Sex Hormones Could Be Less Religious.” https://neurosciencenews.com/dhea-testosterone-religion-men-9224/ (accessed June 3, 2018).[/cbtab][/cbtabs]
Are Men’s Religious Ties Hormonally Regulated?
Objectives Studies based on the “challenge hypothesis” have linked men’s androgens—testosterone and DHEA—to short term mating and antisocial behaviors. Causal direction at a given stage of the life cycle remains ambiguous. Religion is a major social institution through which actions violating social norms are controlled. Thus, ties to this institution may be lower among men with higher androgen levels. The present study queried these linkages.
Procedures Data were from the 2005–2006 and 2010–2011 waves of the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project (NSHAP), a national probability sample of older U.S. adults. Analysis was through autoregressive cross-lagged panel models (minimum N = 1071).
Results Higher baseline levels of both testosterone and DHEA prospectively predicted religious ties, whether measured through attendance at services or network connections to clergy. Moreover, contrary to arguments of sociocultural modulation of androgens, the pattern of associations was most consistent with hormonal causation of religious connections. Results were robust to a range of time invariant and time varying confounders, including demographics, hormone supplements, and physical health.
Conclusions Findings add to the growing evidence that religiosity may have physiological and not simply psychosocial roots. Implications for hormonal confounding of previously published religion-deviance linkages, and for neuroendocrine underpinnings of population-level social and cultural patterns, are discussed.