Examining Testosterone and Aggression in a Biosocial Framework Open Access

Ryan, Stacy R (2010)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/hq37vp248?locale=en
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Abstract

Recent investigations suggest that examining the moderating role of social context
variables may be important for understanding the link between testosterone and
adolescent aggression and delinquency. The present research extends previous work by
examining the interaction between testosterone and social context within a cross-sectional
study (Study One) and within a longitudinal treatment outcome study (Study Two).
Study One examined adolescent boys between the ages of 12 and 17 who were
participating in a larger longitudinal investigation of Multisystemic Therapy in
community settings. Data were gathered in the context of pre-treatment assessments, and
were analyzed to test the hypotheses that the relationship between testosterone and
aggression and delinquency depends on (a) deviant peer group affiliation, (b) parenting
style, and/or (c) basal cortisol levels. Results did not reveal significant interactions
between testosterone and cortisol or between testosterone and social context (i.e.,
parenting style and deviant peer affiliation) as predictors of aggressive or delinquent
outcomes. Study Two extended the investigation of these variables to a treatment context
by examining the relationship between testosterone and social context and testosterone
and cortisol on the growth trajectories of caregiver report of therapist adherence, youth
aggression, and youth delinquency. Study Two also examined the co-variation between
testosterone and youth aggression and delinquency over the course of MST treatment.
Results revealed a lower rate of positive change in caregiver report of therapist adherence
for the youth in the sample who had both high basal cortisol levels and high testosterone
levels at pre-treatment. Additionally, the combination of high testosterone and high
deviant peer affiliation as well as the combination of high testosterone and high quality
parenting at pre-treatment were associated with less of a decline in aggression and
delinquency over the course of treatment. Last, results of Study Two revealed a positive
association between testosterone and delinquency across time in the MST treatment
context. Results of Study One add to the mixed literature on the association between
testosterone and aggression and delinquency. Results of Study Two provide novel
evidence for the role of testosterone in the prediction of future externalizing behaviors.
Clinical and theoretical implications are discussed.


Examining Testosterone and Aggression in a Biosocial Framework
By
Stacy R. Ryan
B.A., Emory University, 2004
M.A., Emory University, 2006
Advisor: Patricia Brennan, Ph.D.
A dissertation submitted to the Faculty of the
James T. Laney School of Graduate Studies of Emory University
in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology
2010

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
General Introduction: Examining Testosterone & Aggression in a Biosocial Framework ................1
STUDY ONE: Cross-Sectional Study


Introduction ................................................................................................................5
Rationale ...................................................................................................................14
Methods ....................................................................................................................15
Measures ...................................................................................................................20
Analytic Procedures .....................................................................................................27
Results ......................................................................................................................28
Discussion ..................................................................................................................31
STUDY TWO: A Longitudinal Analysis


Introduction ...............................................................................................................35
Rationale ...................................................................................................................41
Methods ....................................................................................................................43
Measures ...................................................................................................................45
Analytic Procedures .....................................................................................................56
Results ......................................................................................................................59
Discussion ..................................................................................................................70
General Discussion .......................................................................................................77
References .................................................................................................................80
Appendix A: Peer Delinquency Scale ................................................................................97
Appendix B: Self-Report Delinquency Scale ......................................................................100
Appendix C: Health Questionnaire ..................................................................................103
Appendix D: HLM Interpretation .....................................................................................106
Footnote ...................................................................................................................108
Table 1: Study One, Mean Testosterone Levels of Participants for each Agency .....................110
Table 2: Study One, Correlations Between Testosterone, Height, Weight, & Body Mass.............111
Table 3: Study One, Descriptive Statistics .......................................................................112
Table 4: Study One, Correlation Between Independent & Dependent Variables ........................113

Table 5: Study One, Correlation Between Continuous Demographic and Dependent
Variables used in Analysis ............................................................................................114
Table 6: Study One, Correlation Between Dichotomous Demographic and Dependent
Variables used in Analysis ............................................................................................115
Table 7: Study One, Direct Effects of Basal Testosterone Predicting Self-Report General
Delinquency Scale ......................................................................................................116
Table 8: Study One, Direct Effects of Basal Testosterone Predicting CBCL Aggression Scale......117
Table 9: Study One, Direct Effects of Basal Testosterone Predicting CBCL Delinquency Scale....118
Table 10: Study Two, Cross-Sectional Descriptive Statistics for the Independent and
Dependent Variables used in Analysis..........................................................119
Table 11: Study Two, Correlations Among Study Variables..120
Table 12: Study Two, Testosterone X Cortisol Predicting Caregiver Report of Therapist Adherence...122
Table 13: Study Two, Testosterone X Deviant Peer Affiliation Predicting CBCL
Aggression and Delinquency..........................................123
Table 14: Study Two, Testosterone X Caregiver Report of Parenting Predicting Delinquency.......124
Figure 1: Simple Slope Plot Illustrating the Interaction of Time 1 Testosterone and Time
1 Cortisol on Changes in Caregiver Report of Therapist Adherence Over the Course of
Treatment..............................................125

Figure 2: Simple Slope Plot Illustrating the Interaction of Time 1 Testosterone and Time
1 Deviant Peer Affiliation on Changes in CBCL Aggression Over the Course of
Treatment .............................................126

Figure 3: Simple Slope Plot Illustrating the Interaction of Time 1 Testosterone and Time
1 Deviant Peer Affiliation on Changes in CBCL Delinquency Over the Course of
Treatment ................................................127

Figure 4: Simple Slope Plot Illustrating the Interaction of Time 1 Testosterone and Time
1 Caregiver Report of Parent-Child Relationship Quality on Changes in CBCL
Delinquency Over the Course of Treatment...............................128

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