Hormones are chemical messengers that are produced and released by endocrine (endo = internal; crine = to secrete) glands into the bloodstream, where they travel to target organs or tissues influencing physiology and behavior. The primary endocrine glands include the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, thyroid gland, adrenal glands, pancreas, and the gonads (i.e., testes and ovaries). Multiple endocrine systems are active throughout the lifespan, and at any given time, the human body contains over 50 different functioning hormones. Most of these hormones play central roles in a wide array of developmental processes and act (and interact) to influence behavior. However, for numerous reasons, social scientists have largely focused on only a select few that are easily assessed through minimally invasive methods (i.e., saliva). This entry focuses ...

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