A growing body of literature associates anabolic-androgenic steroids (AS) with psychological and behavioral disturbance. Studies report marked increases in aggression, and authors have suggested a causal relationship with the pharmacological properties of AS. There are, however, contradictions, methodological shortcomings, and variability within the literature that indicate a need to reevaluate the interpretation of these findings. After considering limitations in the pharmacological-oriented approach when compared to wider theory, a previously unconsidered social-psychological literature base regarding this problem is examined. The paper explores the role of social mediation in the relationship between AS use and aggression, demonstrating how psychosocial factors may bring about the aggressive behavior. Although these alternatives aim to place the nature of effects firmly back in the field of psychological explanation, it is proposed that the true nature of the effects will only become evident by adopting a complex biopsychosocial approach to the study of this problem.
Martin Sharp is with the Department of Exercise and Sport Science at the Manchester Metropolitan University, Crewe and Alsager Faculty, Hassall Rd., Alsager, Cheshire, ST7 2HL, United Kingdom. David Collins was with Manchester Metropolitan University at the time of the study and is now with the Department of Physical Education, Sport and Leisure Studies, The University of Edinburgh.