DOES FACE-TO-FACE RIVALRY INCREASE TESTOSTERONE LEVELS?

Many scientists have conducted various research studies on testosterone (T), a hormone that is responsible for manly appearance. For instance, it affects the growth of body hair, muscles and other. Since physical strength is generally considered a good characteristic of men, it often rises along with the increase of T in their body. This is usually related to a desire for dominance; a dominant male shows a greater level of this hormone in blood.

In other words, when one wins in a competitive occasion, he shows dominance over others. This is the case in most physical sports, such as athletics, boxing etc.

However, the scientists have also found that the level of this hormone increases not only in physical sport disciplines such as wrestling, but also in other competitive circumstances such as a chess tournament.

Mental Rivalry vs. Muscle Rivalry

As chess players do not compete physically which is the case in most sports, one would think they do not possess the mechanism that triggers the increase of testosterone in their blood. However, they actually show an increase of T levels – both during a tournament and after winning it.

There are two explanations of this. One, as every competition rises testosterone level, chess players that compete will show a higher concentration of this hormone in their body. Furthermore, they may have an increase of testosterone when they practice for the competition as well before the game, when they meet their opponent face-to-face.

Second, rank also affects T levels and their increase in an individual’s body. If a chess player has a higher rank, his T level will be higher than of a player that has a lower rank in a tournament. In comparison to the chess players, bodybuilders and wrestlers act the same.

Social Competition

Researches also show that testosterone is a social hormone that can affect one’s behavior in various human interactions related to emotional processes, social or economic status. This statement may be associated to dominance in hierarchy, a higher social rank than other individuals have. Research studies also state that when an individual is socially stable, his testosterone level is low. The reason for this may be the lack of challenges.

This can be compared to marking a territory in animal world. Humans behave in a similar way. In human world, marking a territory can mean, for instance, “fighting” over a better job position – and, in case of wrestling, fighting to win a competition.

As wrestling is a sport that offers ranking and challenges to competitors, normally, it will trigger the hormonal level rise more often.

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