Fathers: The interplay between testosterone levels and self-control in relation to parenting quality

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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In this study, we examined the potential interaction effect between fathers' basal testosterone levels and their ability to control their impulses in relation to their quality of parenting. Participants included 159 fathers and their preschoolers. Evening and morning salivary samples were analyzed with isotope dilution-liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry (ID-LC-MS/MS)to determine basal testosterone (T)levels. During a home-visit, fathers' self-control was measured with a computerized Go/NoGo task, and their sensitivity and respect for child autonomy was observed in a free-play session. We found that higher T levels in the evening were related to less respect for child autonomy, but only in fathers with low self-control. Further, higher T in the evening was related to more sensitive parenting, yet only in fathers with high self-control. These findings indicate that different aspects of fathers' quality of parenting are differently affected by the interaction between T and self-control. Further research is needed to clarify the interplay between fathers' neuro-endocrine system functioning and their trait characteristics in relation to the development of father-child relationships.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)100-106
Number of pages7
JournalHormones and Behavior
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Basal testosterone
  • Fathers
  • Parenting quality
  • Preschoolers
  • Self-control

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