Testosterone has always gotten a bad rap as being the hormone that causes men to act aggressively toward others. But in a strange twist, it appears that testosterone can actually prompt men to cuddle with their partners more and cause male parents to be more affectionate with their children as well. This comes as a new study shows that testosterone can cause the same individual to be aggressive or more affectionate. Which direction that individual goes is all dependent on how much testosterone is in the system and the social situation in which they find themselves.

Researchers from Emory University have discovered that testosterone is no longer just the aggression hormone. Instead, it is one that "can foster friendly, prosocial behavior in males," according to EurekAlert! Making men more attentive to their partners and less aggressive to their peers.

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The study, which was published in the journal, The Proceedings of the Royal Society B, found that how testosterone causes the male brain to react is all determined by the social setting men find themselves in. This means that if feeling threatened in public or finding the need to show off in front of peers, testosterone will make men more aggressive. But, in an environment with their partners where they feel safe, testosterone and oxytocin will work together and make men more affectionate toward their significant other.

To come to this conclusion, researchers used Mongolian gerbils to see how they would react in settings with both their partners and a stranger.

According to the study, male gerbils were put into cages with their female partners and their pups. The male gerbils were helping with their young and were protective of them like many human fathers would be protective of their children.

Researchers then injected them with testosterone, believing the nurturing behavior would come to an end. But what they found instead was that the gerbil fathers became more involved and cuddlier with their partners.

According to ScienceFinds, they became "super partners."

Researchers then introduced a male intruding gerbil into the cage after removing the female partner. Interestingly enough, per the publication, the gerbil initially exhibited "prosocial behavior." It was not until the gerbil received another dose of testosterone that aggressive behavior was shown toward the other gerbil.

What does this mean for women and their relationships with their male partners? It means that underneath the tough exterior that so many men exude, there is a tender side to them as well.

By understanding that there will be shifts in mood and attitude making men more or less social depending on the social circumstances they find themselves in, it will better help women to understand what makes men tick. And when there is better understanding, relationships grow stronger and last for longer. Something that is beneficial for everyone involved.

Source: EurekAlert!, The Proceedings of the Royal Society B , ScienceFinds