Hormones and Behaviour - SE605

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
Canterbury Autumn
View Timetable
6 15 (7.5) DR B Tiddi


SE565 (Sex, Evolution, and Human Nature) or SE580 (Primate Behaviour and Ecology)





If behaviour has been shaped by natural selection, then those behaviours must have some biological basis. This module explores the extent to which hormonal mechanisms provide such a biological explanation of behaviour in humans and our primate cousins. Students will learn the basics of the endocrine system, and consider both how hormones affect behaviour and how behaviour may affect hormones. This module will examine the role that hormones play in the differentiation of behaviours between females and males, as well as the evidence that sexual, parental, aggressive, and affiliative behaviours are influenced by hormones. Students will thus complete this module with a greater appreciation of the hormonal underpinnings of the complex sociality that characterizes humans and other primates.


This module appears in:

Contact hours



BSc Biological Anthropology
BA Social Anthropology
BSc Anthropology and associated programmes
BSc Wildlife Conservation

Method of assessment

50% Exam; 50% Coursework
Essay (40%)
Seminar Participation (10%)

Indicative reading

Nelson, R. J. 2011. An Introduction to Behavioral Endocrinology, 4th ed.: Sinauer Associates.
Ellison, P. T. & Gray, P. B. 2009. Endocrinology of social relationships, Harvard University Press.
Sapolsky, R. M. 2004. Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers, Macmillan.
Becker, J., Breedlove, S., Crews, D. & McCarthy, M. 2002. Behavioral Endocrinology. 2nd ed.: MIT Press

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

8.1 understand the basic workings of the endocrine system, and understand and critically evaluate the methods used to study human and nonhuman primate behavioural endocrinology in field, lab, and other captive conditions;
8.2 appreciate the hormonal basis of sex differentiation and sex differences in behaviour;
8.3 understand the link between hormones and social systems in humans and other primates, including wide-ranging knowledge of how hormones influence mating behaviour, parenting behaviour, and social behaviour;
8.4 understand how hormones influence cognition in humans and other primates;
8.5 explain in depth the link between the short-term adaptive benefits of acute stress responses and the long-term detrimental consequences of chronic stress in humans and other primates;
8.6 design a study to investigate the link between hormones and behaviour in humans or non-human primates.

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