Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology

, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp 264–282 | Cite as

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



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.


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.


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.


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.


Relational uncertainty Disclosure Testosterone Physiology Relational transgressions 



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.


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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

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