Threats to Courtship and the Physiological Response: Testosterone Mediates the Association Between Relational uncertainty and Disclosure for Dating Partner Recipients of Relational Transgressions

  • John P. Crowley
  • Amanda Denes
  • Shana Makos
  • Joseph Whitt
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
  • 3 Downloads

Abstract

Objectives

Scholars have increasingly recognized that an important avenue for future research is to examine why the relational characteristic of uncertainty incites reactivity for romantic partners during times of transition. Grounded within relational turbulence theory, this study examined whether testosterone, a social hormone that inspires approach behaviors that protect against status and dominance threats, can help account for the negative relationship between relational uncertainty and disclosure for dating partner recipients of severe relational transgressions.

Methods

Baseline testosterone levels were measured through a dried blood spot method for dating partners who had experienced severe relational transgressions within 5-months of their study participation.

Results

The results revealed that each type of relational uncertainty was negatively associated with testosterone, that testosterone was positively associated with reports of disclosure, and that testosterone mediated the relationship between each type of relational uncertainty and disclosure.

Conclusions

The findings demonstrate that experiences with relational uncertainty following a severe relational transgression may negatively impact levels of disclosure for transgression recipients and that testosterone levels may be an explanatory mechanism for this association.

Keywords

Relational uncertainty Disclosure Testosterone Physiology Relational transgressions 

Notes

Acknowledgements

Partial support for this research came from a Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development research infrastructure grant, P2C HD042828, to the Center for Studies in Demography & Ecology at the University of Washington.

References

  1. Afifi, W. A., Falato, W. L., & Weiner, J. L. (2001). Identity concerns following a severe relational transgression: The role of discovery method for the relational outcomes of infidelity. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 18, 291–308.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0265407501182007.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Altman, I., & Taylor, D. (1973). Social penetration: The development of interpersonal relationships. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.Google Scholar
  3. Archer, J. (2006). Testosterone and human aggression: an evaluation of the challenge hypothesis. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 30, 319–345.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neubiorev.2004.12.007.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Arnocky, S., Graham, A., Carré, J. M., & Ortiz, T. L. (2018). Intrasexual competition mediates the relationship between men’s testosterone and mate retention behavior. Physiology & Behavior. Advance online publication.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.physbeh.2018.01.007.
  5. Avtgis, T. A., West, D. V., & Anderson, T. L. (1998). Relationship stages: An inductive analysis identifying cognitive, affective, and behavioral dimensions of Knapp's relational stages model. Communication Research Reports, 15, 280–287.  https://doi.org/10.1080/08824099809362124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bhasin, S., Cunningham, G. R., Hayes, F. J., Matsumoto, A. M., Snyder, P. J., Swerdloff, R. S., & Montori, V. M. (2010). Testosterone therapy in men with androgen deficiency syndromes: An endocrine society clinical practice guideline. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 95, 2536–2559.  https://doi.org/10.1210/jc.2005-2847.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Boksem, M. A., Mehta, P. H., Van den Bergh, B., van Son, V., Trautmann, S. T., Roelofs, K., Smidts, A., & Sanfey, A. G. (2013). Testosterone inhibits trust but promotes reciprocity. Psychological Science, 24, 2306–2314.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797613495063.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brambilla, D. J., Matsumoto, A. M., Araujo, A. B., & McKinlay, J. B. (2009). The effect of diurnal variation on clinical measurement of serum testosterone and other sex hormone levels in men. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 94, 907–913.  https://doi.org/10.1210/jc.2008-1902.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Brashers, D. E. (2001). Communication and uncertainty management. Journal of Communication, 51, 477–497.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.2001.tb02892.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Brindle, E., O’Connor, K. A., & Garrett, D. (2014). Applications of dried blood spots in general human health studies. In W. Li & M. S. Lee (Eds.), Dried Blood Spots: Applications and Techniques (pp. 114–129). Hoboken: Wiley.Google Scholar
  11. Cohan, C. L., Booth, A., & Granger, D. A. (2003). Gender moderates the relationship between testosterone and marital interaction. Journal of Family Psychology, 17, 29–40.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0893-3200.17.1.29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Collins, N. L., & Miller, L. C. (1994). Self-disclosure and liking: A meta-analytic review. Psychological Bulletin, 116, 457–475.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.116.3.457.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Crowley, J. P., Denes, A., Makos, S., & Whitt, J. (2018). Expressive writing to cope with relational transgressions: tests of a dual-process model of expressive writing and its effects on forgiveness communication and testosterone. Health Communication.  https://doi.org/10.1080/10410236.2018.1431017.
  14. Dabbs Jr., J. M., & Mohammed, S. (1992). Male and female salivary testosterone concentrations before and after sexual activity. Physiology & Behavior, 52, 195–197.  https://doi.org/10.1016/0031-9384(92)90453-9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Denes, A., Afifi, T. A., & Granger, D. (2016). Physiology and pillow talk: Relations between testosterone and communication post sex. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 34, 281–308.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0265407516634470.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Derlega, V. J., & Grzelak, J. (1979). Appropriateness of self-disclosure. In G. J. Chelune (Ed.), Self-disclosure: Origins, patterns, and implications of openness in interpersonal relationships (pp. 151–176). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  17. Derlega, V. L., Metts, S., Petronio, S., & Margulis, S. T. (1993). Self-disclosure. Newbury Park: Sage.Google Scholar
  18. Dillard, J. P., Solomon, D. H., & Palmer, M. T. (1999). Structuring the concept of relational communication. Communication Monographs, 66, 49–65.  https://doi.org/10.1080/03637759909376462.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Dreher, J. C., Dunne, S., Pazderska, A., Frodl, T., Nolan, J. J., & O’Doherty, J. P. (2016). Testosterone causes both prosocial and antisocial status-enhancing behaviors in human males. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 113, 11633–11638. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1608085113\.Google Scholar
  20. Edelstein, R. S., Chopik, W. J., & Kean, E. L. (2011). Sociosexuality moderates the association between testosterone and relationship status in men and women. Hormones and Behavior, 60, 248–255.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.yhbeh.2011.05.007.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Edelstein, R. S., van Anders, S. M., Chopik, W. J., Goldey, K. L., & Wardecker, B. M. (2014). Dyadic associations between testosterone and relationship quality in couples. Hormones and Behavior, 65, 401–407.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.yhbeh.2014.03.003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Eisenegger, C., Naef, M., Snozzi, R., Heinrichs, M., & Fehr, E. (2009). Prejudice and truth about the effect of testosterone on human bargaining behaviour. Nature, 463, 356–359.  https://doi.org/10.1038/nature08711.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Eisenegger, C., Haushofer, J., & Fehr, E. (2011). The role of testosterone in social interaction. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 15, 263–271.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tics.2011.04.008.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Enter, D., Spinhoven, P., & Roelofs, K. (2014). Alleviating social avoidance: Effects of single dose testosterone administration on approach–avoidance action. Hormones and Behavior, 65, 351–354.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.yhbeh.2014.02.001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Goetz, S. M. M., Tang, L., Thomason, M. E., Diamond, M. P., Hariri, A. R., & Carre, J. M. (2014). Testosterone rapidly increases neural reactivity to threat in healthy men: A novel two-step pharmacological challenge paradigm. Biological Psychiatry, 76, 324–331.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsych.2014.01.016.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hermans, E. J., Putman, P., Baas, J. M., Koppeschaar, H. P., & van Honk, J. (2006). A single administration of testosterone reduces fear-potentiated startle in humans. Biological Psychiatry, 59, 872–874.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsych.2005.11.015.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Kenny, D. A. (2014). Learn how you can do a mediation analysis and output a text description of your results: Go to mediational analysis using DataToText using SPSS or R. Retrieved October, 20, 2016.Google Scholar
  28. Kline, R. B. (2008). Becoming a behavioral science researcher: A guide to producing research that matters. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  29. Knapp, M. L. (1978). Social intercourse: From greeting to goodbye. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.Google Scholar
  30. Knobloch, L. K. (2006). Relational uncertainty and message production within courtship: Features of date request messages. Human Communication Research, 32, 244–273.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2958.2006.00275.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Knobloch, L. K. (2010). Relational uncertainty and interpersonal communication. In S. W. Smith & S. R. Wilson (Eds.), New directions in interpersonal communication research (pp. 69–93). Thousand Oaks: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Knobloch, L. K., & Carpenter-Theune, K. E. (2004). Topic avoidance in developing romantic relationships: Associations with intimacy and relational uncertainty. Communication Research, 31, 173–205. 10.1177=0093650203261516.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Knobloch, L. K., & McAninch, K. G. (2014). Uncertainty management. In P. Cobley & P. Schultz (Series Eds.), Handbook of communication sciences: Interpersonal communication (pp. 297–319). Berlin: Mouton De Gruyter.Google Scholar
  34. Knobloch, L. K., & Solomon, D. H. (1999). Measuring the sources and content of relational uncertainty. Communication Studies, 50, 261–278.  https://doi.org/10.1080/10510979909388499.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Knobloch, L. K., Miller, L. E., Bond, B. J., & Mannone, S. E. (2007). Relational uncertainty and message processing in marriage. Communication Monographs, 74, 154–180.  https://doi.org/10.1080/03637750701390069.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Lombardo, M. V., Ashwin, E., Auyeung, B., Chakrabarti, B., Taylor, K., Hackett, G., Bullmore, E. T., & Baron-Cohen, S. (2012). Fetal testosterone influences sexually dimorphic gray matter in the human brain. The Journal of Neuroscience, 32, 674–680.  https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4389-11.2012.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. MacKinnon, D. P., & Fairchild, A. J. (2009). Current directions in mediation analysis. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 18, 16–20.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8721.2009.01598.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. McLaren, R. M., Solomon, D. H., & Priem, J. S. (2012). The effect of relationship characteristics and relational communication on experiences of hurt from romantic partners. Journal of Communication, 62, 950–971.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.2012.01678.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Mehta, P. H., & Josephs, R. A. (2010). Testosterone and cortisol jointly regulate dominance: Evidence for a dual-hormone hypothesis. Hormones and Behavior, 58, 898–906.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.yhbeh.2010.08.020.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Metts, S. (1994). Relational transgressions. In W. R. Cupach & B. H. Spitzberg (Eds.), The dark side of interpersonal communication (pp. 217–240). Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  41. Miller, L. C., Berg, J. H., & Archer, R. L. (1983). Openers: Individuals who elicit intimate self-disclosure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 44, 1234.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.44.6.1234.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Montoya, E. R., Terburg, D., Bos, P. A., & Van Honk, J. (2012). Testosterone, cortisol, and serotonin as key regulators of social aggression: A review and theoretical perspective. Motivation and Emotion, 36, 65–73.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11031-011-9264-3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Muir, C. E., Spironello-Vella, N., Pisani, N., & deCatanzaro, D. (2001). Enzyme immunoassay of 17 beta-estradiol, estrone conjugates, and testosterone in urinary and fecal samples from male and female mice. Hormone and Metabolic Research, 33, 653–658.  https://doi.org/10.1055/s-2001-18692.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Neave, N., Menaged, M., & Weightman, D. R. (1999). Sex differences in cognition: The role of testosterone and sexual orientation. Brain and Cognition, 41, 245–262.  https://doi.org/10.1006/brcg.1999.1125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Perini, T., Ditzen, B., Fischbacher, S., & Ehlert, U. (2012a). Testosterone and relationship quality across the transition to fatherhood. Biological Psychology, 90, 186–191.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsycho.2012.03.004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Perini, T., Ditzen, B., Hengartner, M., & Ehlert, U. (2012b). Sensation seeking in fathers: The impact on testosterone and paternal investment. Hormones and Behavior, 61, 191–195.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.yhbeh.2011.12.004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Preacher, K. J., & Hayes, A. F. (2004). SPSS and SAS procedures for estimating indirect effects in simple mediation models. Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, & Computers, 36, 717–731.  https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03206553.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Priem, J. S., & Solomon, D. H. (2011). Relational uncertainty and cortisol responses to hurtful and supportive messages from a dating partner. Personal Relationships, 18, 198–223.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-6811.2011.01353.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Purifoy, F. E., Koopmans, L. H., & Mayes, D. M. (1981). Age differences in serum androgen levels in normal adult males. Human Biology, 499–511. http://www.jstor.org/stable/41463334
  50. Ronay, R., & Von Hippel, W. (2009). Power, testosterone, and risk-taking. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 23, 473–482.  https://doi.org/10.1002/bdm.671.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Solomon, D. H. (2016). Relational turbulence model. In C. R. Berger, M. E. Roloff, S. R. Wilson, J. P. Dillard, J. Caughlin, & D. H. Solomon (Eds.), International encyclopedia of interpersonal communication. Wiley-Blackwell: Hoboken.Google Scholar
  52. Solomon, D. H., & Knobloch, L. K. (2004). A model of relational turbulence: The role of intimacy, relational uncertainty, and interference from partners in appraisals of irritations. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 21, 795–816.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0265407504047838.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Solomon, D. H., & Theiss, J. A. (2011). Relational turbulence: What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. In W. Cupach & B. Spitzberg (Eds.), The dark side of close relationships (pp. 197–216). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  54. Solomon, D. H., Weber, K. M., & Steuber, K. R. (2010). Turbulence in relational transitions. In S. W. Smith & S. R. Wilson (Eds.), New directions in interpersonal communication research (pp. 115–134). Thousand Oaks: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Solomon, D. H., Knobloch, L. K., Theiss, J. A., & McLaren, R. M. (2016). Relational turbulence theory: Explaining variation in subjective experiences and communication within romantic relationships. Human Communication Research, 42, 507–532.  https://doi.org/10.1111/hcre.12091.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Soper, D. S. (2018). Post-hoc statistical power calculator for multiple regression [software]. Available from http://www.danielsoper.com/statcalc.
  57. Taylor, D. A., Gould, R. J., & Brounstein, P. J. (1981). Effects of personalistic self-disclosure. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 7(3), 487–492.  https://doi.org/10.1177/014616728173019.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Terburg, D., & van Honk, J. (2013). Approach-avoidance versus dominance-submissiveness: A multilevel neural framework on how testosterone promotes social status. Emotion Review, 5, 296–302.  https://doi.org/10.1177/1754073913477510.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Terburg, D., Aarts, H., & van Honk, J. (2012). Testosterone affects gave aversion from angry faces outside of conscious awareness. Psychological Science, 23, 459–463.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797611433336.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Theiss, J. A., & Knobloch, L. K. (2013). A relational turbulence model of military service members’ relational communication during reintegration. Journal of Communication, 63, 1109–1129.  https://doi.org/10.1111/jcom.12059.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. van Anders, S. M., Goldey, K. L., & Kuo, P. X. (2011). The steroid/peptide theory of social bonds: integrating testosterone and peptide responses for classifying social behavioral contexts. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 36, 1265–1275.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2011.06.001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. van Honk, J., Montoya, E. R., Bos, P. A., van Vugt, M., & Terburg, D. (2012). New evidence on testosterone and cooperation. Nature, 485, E4–E5.  https://doi.org/10.1038/nature11136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Viau, V. (2002). Functional cross-talk between the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal and-adrenal axes. Journal of Neuroendocrinology, 14, 506–513.  https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-2826.2002.00798.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Welker, K. M., Lozoya, E., Campbell, J. A., Neumann, C. S., & Carré, J. M. (2014). Testosterone, cortisol, and psychopathic traits in men and women. Physiology & Behavior, 129, 230–236.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.physbeh.2014.02.057.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Zhao, X., Lynch, J. G., & Chen, Q. (2010). Reconsidering Baron and Kenny: Myths and truths about mediation analysis. Journal of Consumer Research, 37, 197–206.  https://doi.org/10.1086/651257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • John P. Crowley
    • 1
  • Amanda Denes
    • 2
  • Shana Makos
    • 3
  • Joseph Whitt
    • 1
  1. 1.University of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  2. 2.University of ConnecticutStorrsUSA
  3. 3.Colorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA

Personalised recommendations