(Empathic Parenting) Low testosterone may make you a better father:  more empathic and less aggressive 

Less testosterone may make them more empathic and less aggressive, which may make them better fathers.

This new information on hormonal changes in men comes from a study I conducted with graduate student Patty Kuo at the University of Michigan. It provides a window into men’s parenting, and it may help them become more nurturing fathers.

In both mothers and fathers, the sound of a crying baby can trigger a series of emotional responses, from empathy, to annoyance, to aggravation. The best response is empathy, as aggravation can lead to aggressive behaviors that put the child at risk.

We found that when the men saw their infants in distress and their testosterone declined, they were more nurturing and sensitive fathers when they had to interact with their infants.

We also found that when fathers described themselves as empathetic and when they reported having a loving relationship with the infant’s mother, they were more sensitive fathers.


Brenda Volling

Professor of Psychology, University of Michigan