Hormones, stress and ranking

The level of the hormone testosterone is a good measure of social dominance both in monkeys and humans. Higher testosterone levels were measured in socially dominant individuals as compared to those of socially inferior individuals. Experiments suggested that victory and defeat implied the increase or decrease of testosterone level of male sportsmen (observed not only in football, rugby, tennis and wrestling, but also in chess). Changes in the testosterone level was measured not only in sportsmen, but also fans of sporting events.

Three hormones, adrenaline, cortisol, and norepinephrine show correlation with stress. Is it good to have some stress? Partly yes, stress is to help us animals to survive in a dynamic environment. As new threats arise, the animal must be able to quickly perceive, comprehend and asses the situation and making plans and act accordingly. When an animal is stressed, its pituitary gland and adrenal cortex release stress hormones. These stress hormones will then have a number of physiological effects on the animal’s body, such as increased heart rate, increased muscle tension, and suppressed digestion and reproduction. Naively it was believed that the subordinate members of a group were the ones to display greater levels of stress hormones. This was imagined to be true due to the stress of losing a fight or not having access to priority resources. Data both on monkeys and humans, however, are at least, controversial. High-ranked animals also show stress, but its duration is short-lived, and helps them to win the next competition (which implies further increase in their rank). Lower-ranked males, who are subject of being bullied, have chronically elevated stress hormones, and it is really harmful, and leads to further reduction of their social rank.

Here is a listicle ”8 Reasons a Little Adrenaline Can Be a Very Good Thing”


1. It might help you on a deadline
2. Your vision gets better
3. You’ll breathe easier
4. Other experiences are heightened
5. It can block pain
6. It can boos your immune system
7. You’ll get to tap into a little extra strength
8. It might help slow aging
We already know, lists are just lists. I don’t read this listicle as the ”final truth”, but as an
educated opinion.

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