Author's Note: Do new fathers have lower testosterone than single men?

Lee T. Gettler's study finding that fathers appear to have lower average testosterone levels than single men was one of the most headline-making scientific discoveries of 2011. International news services and publications interpreted the data at will, typically drawing conclusions that lower testosterone correlated to lackluster sex drives and effeminate fathers without merit. Which is a major reason I was motivated to write this article. Taking time to read the entire study as well as interviews with the lead researcher Gettler quickly revealed massive scientific misinterpretation among the media. The notion that men might possess evolved mechanisms for care-giving, like women, doesn't make them any less male. Rather, it helps explain why fathering has such a salient impact on children.

Sources

  • Belkin, Lisa. "When Mom and Dad Share It All." The New York Times. June 15, 2008. (March 15, 2012) http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/15/magazine/15parenting-t.html?_r=2&pagewanted=all
  • Gettler, Lee T. et al. "Fatherhood, Childcare, and Testosterone: Study Authors Discuss the Details." Scientific American. Oct. 05, 2011. (March 15, 2012) http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2011/10/05/fatherhood-childcare-and-testosterone-study-authors-discuss-the-details/
  • Gettler, Lee T. "Longitudinal evidence that fatherhood decreases testosterone in human males." PNAS. Sept. 27, 2011. (March 15, 2012) http://groups.anthropology.northwestern.edu/lhbr/kuzawa_web_files/pdfs/Gettler%20et%20al%20PNAS%202011.pdf
  • Gray, Peter B. and Anderson, Kermyt G. "Fatherhood: Evolution and Human Paternal Behavior." Harvard University Press. May 01, 2010. (March 15, 2012) http://books.google.com/books?id=Yz_JkWGbMaQC&dq=fatherhood+estrogen&source=gbs_navlinks_s
  • Lende, Daniel. "On Testosterone and Real Men: An Interview with Lee Gettler." Neuroanthropology. PLoS Blogs. Dec. 14, 2011. (March 15, 2012) http://blogs.plos.org/neuroanthropology/2011/12/14/on-testosterone-and-real-men-an-interview-with-lee-gettler/
  • Mak, Gloria K. and Weiss, Samuel. "Paternal recognition of adult offspring mediated by newly generated CNS neurons." Nature Neuroscience. Nov. 17, 2009. (March 15, 2012) http://www.nature.com/neuro/journal/v13/n6/abs/nn.2550.html
  • Mossop, Brian. "The Brain of Our Fathers: Does Parenting Rewire Dads?" Scientific American. Aug. 17, 2010. (March 15, 2012) http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-brains-of-our-fathers
  • World Health Organization Europe. "Fatherhood and Health Outcomes in Europe: A Summary Report." 2007. (March 15, 2012) http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0019/69013/E91129sum.pdf