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5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and thought provoking
I read the book 'Heros, Rogues, and Lovers: Testosterone and Behavior' by James and Mary Dabbs in the midst of the presidential debates between Al Gore and George W. Bush. The book caused me to wonder about the testosterone levels of the two candidates as a possible factor in their demeanor. In the third debate, when Gore strode into Bush's 'personal space' during...
Published on Nov. 7 2000 by Bonsoir Amis

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2.0 out of 5 stars science by anecdote
An interesting topic but the book is ultimately very disappointing. There are far too many anecdotes and not enough hard science -- in particular the interaction of testosterone with other factors such as intelligence or the levels of other hormones is only touched on. The description of the ancestral environment and the role of testosterone in human evolution is comic...
Published on Jan. 27 2002 by John S


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4.0 out of 5 stars Readable report on the latest research, Sept. 20 2001
This review is from: Heroes, Rogues, and Lovers: Testosterone and Behavior (Hardcover)
Males commit violent acts at a rate much greater than women. The vast majority of people in prison are males. One of the reasons is they have more testosterone pumping through their veins than women. Testosterone makes people take chances. It makes them more interested in sex and more aggressive. It makes them into "heroes, rogues and lovers," to quote the title of this interesting book. Testosterone tends to affect low socioeconomic status males more than high status males, and the effects of testosterone can be mitigated by learning. Women also produce testosterone, but at lower levels than men; however, what they do produce affects them more. Women are attracted to high testosterone males, but do not necessarily marry them. Women select males and thereby create the males that exist. We inherit our testosterone levels, and testosterone comes before rambunctiousness, not the other way around. (This last from pages 87-88.)
These are some of the facts gleaned from the research of Professor Dabbs, who is the head of the Social/Cognitive Psychology Program at Georgia State University. This book is a report on that research presented with examples, allusions and references to literature and the popular culture, leading to an easy read. Dabbs, along with his collaborator, his wife, Mary, "a former publicist with several feminist organizations," allows us to see the world through testosterone-shaded glasses, but without prejudice. Their report is balanced and fair. They give us the downside of testosterone and the upside, as implied in their title. The fact that theirs is the first popular full-length book (that I know of) devoted exclusively to the phenomenon of testosterone is the result of fairly recent technology that allows the measurement of testosterone levels from saliva samples. Previously, blood had to be used. Since most people are more willing to spit than to allow blood to be taken from their bodies, this technique opened up new possibilities for research, and Dabbs, who apparently has a fair amount of testosterone still pumping through his veins, got there first.
There are charts and graphs showing testosterone levels by occupation. Construction workers, actors, football players, con men (!), blue collar workers, etc., predicably are high in testosterone while clerical workers and clerics, counselors and farmers, etc., are low. Lawyers tend to be high, with trial lawyers and especially flamboyant defense lawyers the highest, with research lawyers the lowest. Relatively high testosterone levels correlate with masculine traits such as muscle strength, spatial ability, narrow-focused thinking, combativeness, while lower levels correlate with feminine traits such as sociability, more generalized thinking, verbal ability, cooperation, etc. Men tend to leap to action, while women tend to think about it first. Higher testosterone does not correlate with high economic status since our society rewards thoughtfulness, patience, and cooperation as well as hard work and being assertive. High testosterone males die younger but have more sex. This too is a predicable finding since it is a type of evolutionary strategy. Testosterone, in fact, might be seen as the chemical form of aggressiveness. Aggressiveness is getting there first with the most. It's a kind of strategy that often works. But there are problems as well as rewards in aggressiveness. First, it's costly; you use more energy. Second, you're not as sure in your actions so you make more mistakes, which is dangerous Third, you incite aggressiveness on the part of others, and that too can be dangerous. Fourth, sometimes getting there first may lead to no advantage. Finally, you can be only so aggressive. Aggressiveness leads to an "arms war." If aggressiveness is rewarded--and it is in a passive world--then everybody tends to become more aggressive until nobody has an advantage; in fact the passive now have the advantage because they live longer, etc., leading to the selection of more passive creatures, creating an environment effectively exploited by the more aggressive, leading to...the arms race cycle.
Some interesting quotes from the text:
"Wife abuse" tends to increase "in the Washington, D.C., area after the Redskins win their football games." (p. 92)
"To some men, a good relationship allows them to strut while their wives admire them." (p. 111)
"...[W]omen know in their secret hearts that men who won't kill for them are useless." (p. 61. Dabbs is paraphrasing from Cormac McCarthy's novel, The Crossing.)
"...[C]avewomen had to have resources and protection for their young, and so in courtship and mating, they favored dominant and powerful suitors...<Cavewoman> values persist today...Money is associated with power...women want men with <good financial prospects>." (p. 113)
"Senator William Proxmire once denounced two of my colleagues for looking at love scientifically, saying that love was a mystery, not a science, and he wanted it to stay that way. My colleagues agreed that love was a mystery, but they thought the senator should welcome all the help he could get in solving the mystery, given his own problems with divorce." (p. 96)
"Sociobiologists like E. O. Wilson believe that understanding the relationship between our animal qualities and our behavior frees us to improve our behavior, similar to the way that understanding the relationship between tubercule bacilli and disease freed us to find effective treatment for tuberculosis." (p. 210)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and thought provoking, Nov. 7 2000
By 
Bonsoir Amis (Plano, Texas USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Heroes, Rogues, and Lovers: Testosterone and Behavior (Hardcover)
I read the book 'Heros, Rogues, and Lovers: Testosterone and Behavior' by James and Mary Dabbs in the midst of the presidential debates between Al Gore and George W. Bush. The book caused me to wonder about the testosterone levels of the two candidates as a possible factor in their demeanor. In the third debate, when Gore strode into Bush's 'personal space' during Bush's speaking turn, I thought "now that's high testosterone and wouldn't it be great to get him to spit to find out!" Perhaps Dr. Dabbs and his students had similar thoughts.
What an interesting ecclectic book. Where to place it on my shelves? Next to the self help books such as 'Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus'? With the biology and ethology books? Or with my old social psychology books from my college days. Or possibly even in the poetry and literature section. People from all walks of life will find this to be a charming intelligent book about the influence of testosterone on animal and human behavior void of snobbery that so often infects academic works. I especially liked the folksy anecdotes about people and animals that add warmth and color to the book.
Now here's an idea for a commercial offshoot to this work: Would it be possible to produce a testosterone self-test kit similar to pregnancy test kits available in the drug store? If testosterone proves to be such a potent factor in how people get along, well think of the possibilities. Parents of dating-age daughters could screen prospective boyfriends and at least raise warning flags about boys with high testosterone. It could be used on a personal basis as a tool to better understand oneself by tracking fluctuations that possibly lead to mood swings. Speaking personally, when I was divorced a few years ago, my body and brain chemistry went bonkers for a few months, affecting my preferences in books, music, TV programs, and on and on. I suddenly lost interest in sports such as football. Gradually, I reverted back to my old obnoxious male sports-oriented self. Was this due to a testosterone swing?
I'm looking forward to further research about testosterone and other chemicals that affect our behavior, especially as it applies to the gender wars. The thriving divorce industry suggests a dire need for research that helps us better understand and overcome gender differences. Can't we all just get along?
Speaking of the divorce industry, the research comparing trial lawyers to non-trial lawyers was very interesting. Could I venture a hypothesis that matrimonial lawyers will register highest of all lawyer groups on the rogue, er, testosterone scale?
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but incomplete, Oct. 9 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Heroes, Rogues, and Lovers: Testosterone and Behavior (Hardcover)
Dabbs provides an interesting, very readable presentation on the hormone Testosterone, but though I found the book informative, I missed the more incisive analysis of what is really cause and what effect. That testosterone levels are high doesn't necessary say that they motivate aggressive behavior, for instance, but an impulse to be aggressive can cause a rise in testosterone to allow the body to follow the mind (born out in published data from neurology/neuroscience). Science needs to have more proof rather than use assumptions for conclusions. The portions on the so-called high-testosterone women (really, they just might be high self-esteem women) were probably the most interesting in the book, although I got to wondering why so much study focuses and fixates on "male" hormones but so little on women's? Are estrogen and progesterone just too "inferior" to consider? I hope the authors or someone else departs from what looks like an obsession with masculinity in the sciences and look into the other half of the population. I for one would be very interested in a book about high-estrogen men!
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2.0 out of 5 stars science by anecdote, Jan. 27 2002
By 
John S (Frankfurt, Germany) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Heroes, Rogues, and Lovers: Testosterone and Behavior (Hardcover)
An interesting topic but the book is ultimately very disappointing. There are far too many anecdotes and not enough hard science -- in particular the interaction of testosterone with other factors such as intelligence or the levels of other hormones is only touched on. The description of the ancestral environment and the role of testosterone in human evolution is comic book at best. The book serves a useful purpose in surfacing the role of hormones in human behavior and demolishing the naive pc supposition that the only differences between men and women are due to education and culture; but leaves the reader wanting more. There is a much better book waiting to be written on this theme.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Mars and Venus in a Boxing Ring, Oct. 5 2000
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This review is from: Heroes, Rogues, and Lovers: Testosterone and Behavior (Hardcover)
An entertaining read that provides a scientific context for understanding many different types of behaviors in men, but more interestingly: women. Often neglected in other studies on testosterone, this book explores the many different ways high levels of testosterone manifest in women. Laugh-out-loud funny at times, every reader will see someone they know (or perhaps themselves) in this book! Rather than using high testosterone as an excuse for outrageous or sociopathic behavior, James and Mary Dabbs illustrate how appropriate child-rearing can direct the high testosterone child's energies to positive ends.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Wit, Wisdom, and Empiricical Research!, March 20 2002
By A Customer
Heroes, Rogues, and Lovers is a terrific book for those who attempt to stay current with contemporary research within the biological and psychological sciences. Dabbs research provides empirical support for the link between testosterone levels and behavior. Not only is the evidence compelling within this well-written book, but it is funny, witty and reads like a fireplace novel with the inclusion of stories of spit tests gone awry and colorful descriptions of subjects for whom the "spit test" was administered. Worth every penny spent and every minute read!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Balanced and Obervational, Oct. 5 2000
By 
S. Mineart (Indianapolis, IN USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Heroes, Rogues, and Lovers: Testosterone and Behavior (Hardcover)
This book seemed balanced and well-researched. They observed not just men, but the effects of testosterone on both men and women, and the consequences for both sexes of having high or low testosterone, as well as the positive and negative effects having high testosterone has on men and women. It was also interesting to read how testosterone interacts with other hormones, like serotonin. Their conclusions were consistent with human behavior I've observed. I think it would be fascinating to do a similar study on the effects of estrogen; perhaps theres already a book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging, informative, thought-provoking, insightful., Jan. 4 2001
This review is from: Heroes, Rogues, and Lovers: Testosterone and Behavior (Hardcover)
Heroes, Rogues and Lovers deserves attention from students of science and contemporary culture as well, surveying testosterone and behavior patterns and considering the role of testosterone in human behavior. This provides plenty of physiological research and insights geared to the general reader, examining its significance in psychosocial circles and in physical effect. Case histories blend with scientific research and history to describe its role in all aspects of human actions.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, Sept. 25 2000
This review is from: Heroes, Rogues, and Lovers: Testosterone and Behavior (Hardcover)
A most excellent work! Coauthors, Mary and James Dabbs, produce a consummate book integrating sound research methodology, superb explanations for complex metabolic processes and wonderful stories to illustrate the research. Who would think that a book about testosterone and its influence on behavior in both genders across multiple species would be such a page turner, but it is one. I can't wait for the sequel and the movie.
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5.0 out of 5 stars 2 High Testosterone Partners Does Not a Marriage Make, Oct. 6 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Heroes, Rogues, and Lovers: Testosterone and Behavior (Hardcover)
I now have a clearer understanding of the volatile dynamic between my ex-wife and myself. (In all likelihood we are both high in this oh-so-fascinating hormone). This book has a scientific/biological explanation for some of the energy present in our interactions. An easy read that doesn't condescend to the reader; it has put me on the hunt for more information on this subject.
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Heroes, Rogues, and Lovers: Testosterone and Behavior
Heroes, Rogues, and Lovers: Testosterone and Behavior by Mary Godwin Dabbs (Hardcover - July 25 2000)
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