Are Men’s Religious Ties Hormonally Regulated?
Received: 7 February 2018 / Revised: 6 May 2018 / Accepted: 14 May 2018 /
Published online: 30 May 2018
Objectives Studies based on the Bchallenge hypothesis^ have linked men’sandro-
gens—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 physio-
logical 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.
Keywords Challenge hypothesis
Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology (2018) 4:306–320
* Aniruddha Das
Department of Sociology, McGill University, Room 712, Leacock Building, 855 Sherbrooke Street
West, Montreal, Quebec H3A 2T7, Canada
Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018