Hormones and the Endocrine system
Another key biological factor in understanding behaviour is the endocrine system. Neurons are what make up our nervous systems; glands are what make up our endocrine system. The endocrine system, therefore, is the name given to the various glands throughout the body that regulate and release hormones.
You may already be familiar with hormones from health, biology and/or sexual education classes. During puberty the levels of the sex hormones testosterone (for boys) and estrogen (for girls) increase quite dramatically which triggers numerous biological changes in the body which characterize puberty.
In psychology we don’t focus on the physical effects on the body that hormones have so much as we focus on how they affect behaviour and mental processes. In this particular unit, we’re going to explore the relationship between testosterone levels and violent crime.
Hormones are much like neurotransmitters in that they are chemical messengers in our body that can influence our behaviour in multiple ways. Neurotransmitters send messages between neurons, whereas hormones typically are transported through our blood stream.
As you can see in the image, we have various glands throughout our bodies. These glands produce different hormones. When these hormones are released into our body through the blood stream they affect our behaviour and various physiological processes.
This video provides a pretty detailed overview of the endocrine and hormones. Remember, as always, when you watch this video you need to filter and not to worry about remembering everything.
You need to understand how levels of testosterone may influence criminal behaviour: this video will simply show you a bit about the endocrine system and will remind you that what’s happening in our bodies is very complex, so you need to be wary of making statements like “increases in testosterone will make people violent.”
Here is some more information if you want to read further into how hormones work in the body.
Travis Dixon is an IB Psychology teacher, author, workshop leader, examiner and IA moderator.