Gender Differences in Aggression Essay
1161 WordsMar 30th, 20055 Pages
Gender Differences In Aggression
Previous research concerning peer aggression has been conducted under the assumption that women rarely display aggression; therefore, aggressive behavior has historically been viewed as a male phenomenon (Björkqvist, 1994). Recently, many researchers have challenged the gender bias in the existence of aggressive behaviors and have broadened the definition of aggression. Björkqvist's research suggests sex differences exist in the quality of the aggression, but not the quantity. According to Paquette and Underwood (1999), an adolescent's expression of anger and contempt for peers can sometimes be expressed through physical aggression, manipulation, exclusion, and/or gossip. This broader definition allows…show more content…
This does not mean that females are less aggressive than males. Females and males choose their principal form of aggression in order to maximize the effects of the aggression. The reaction of peers to overt and relational aggression differs due to the general value of the group. To generate the desired reaction, females typically choose to use relational forms of aggression because they tend to value intimate relationships. Because males tend to value influential goals such as status among peers, they will typically use overt forms of aggression and gradually incorporate relational forms (Grotpeter & Crick, 1996). The choice of aggression could be linked to the social roles of males and females, the verbal maturity, or the social dynamics in peer relationships.
The nature of girls' relationships involves intimate conversations between friends and, as a result, girls are more invested in their social status and friendships compared to boys (Berndt, 1982). Their choice to use relational aggression to impose social norms more often than physical aggression can be credited to the desire for adolescents to "damage what the same-gender peer group most values" (Paquette & Underwood, 1999, p. 244). Girls view relational aggression as wounding because it harms the intimate relationships they value. Because of the high levels of intimacy in their relationships, relational aggression enables them to gain control over their friends (Grotpeter & Crick, 1996). As a
Gender differences regarding aggressive behaviour were investigated in 167 school children, 11 to 12 years of age, through peer-rating techniques supported by self-ratings and interviews. The social structure of the peer groups also was studied.
The principal finding was that girls made greater use of indirect means of aggression, whereas the boys tended to employ direct means. Gender differences in verbal aggression were less pronounced. The social structure of peer groups was found to be tighter among girls, making it easier for them to exploit relationships and harm their victims by indirect manipulative aggression.
Because indirect aggression has rarely been satisfactorily studied with tests of aggression, this finding may help to explain 1) the generally lower correlation found between peer-rated and self-rated aggression in girls than among boys (indirect means not being so readily recognized by the subject as a kind of aggression) and 2) the low stability of aggressiveness in girls often found in developmental studies.