Diurnal testosterone variability is differentially associated with parenting quality in mothers and fathers

Joyce J. Endendijk, Elizabeth T. Hallers-Haalboom, Marleen G. Groeneveld, Sheila R. van Berkel, Lotte D. van der Pol, Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg, Judi Mesman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Previous studies on the relation between testosterone (T) levels and parenting have found ample evidence for the challenge hypothesis, demonstrating that high T levels inhibit parental involvement and that becoming a parent is related to a decrease in T levels in both mothers and fathers. However, less is known about the relation between T levels and more qualitative aspects of parenting. In the current study we examined basal T levels and diurnal variability in T levels in relation to mothers' and fathers' parenting quality. Participants included 217 fathers and 124 mothers with two children (3 and 5 years of age). Evening and morning salivary T samples were analyzed with radio-immunoassays to determine circulating T levels. Parental sensitivity (i.e., child-centered responsiveness) and respect for children's autonomy were observed during free play in the family home. The results showed that higher evening T levels in mothers were associated with more sensitivity to the oldest and youngest child. Diurnal T variability was more consistently associated with parenting behavior towards their children than basal T levels. For fathers, more diurnal variability in T was associated with more sensitivity and more respect for autonomy with their youngest children. For mothers, more diurnal variability in T was associated with less sensitivity to both children and less respect for the youngest child's autonomy. These findings suggest that the T system might act differently in relation to parenting behavior in males and females.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)68-75
Number of pages8
JournalHormones and Behavior
Volume80
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2016
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Diurnal variability
  • Fathers
  • Mothers
  • Parenting quality
  • Testosterone levels

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Diurnal testosterone variability is differentially associated with parenting quality in mothers and fathers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this

    Endendijk, J. J., Hallers-Haalboom, E. T., Groeneveld, M. G., van Berkel, S. R., van der Pol, L. D., Bakermans-Kranenburg, M. J., & Mesman, J. (2016). Diurnal testosterone variability is differentially associated with parenting quality in mothers and fathers. Hormones and Behavior, 80, 68-75. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.yhbeh.2016.01.016