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 for a more complete understanding of the social or relational aggression, which is typically associated with females. Relational aggression is more verbal than physical and very prevalent in today's society. Gender differences in the prevalence and the form of aggressive behavior used could be explained by the different social roles of females and males. This paper will discuss the different types of aggression and how each type is used within the female and male peer groups. Aggression has been defined as having five central features: Intention to harm, unprovoked, happens repeatedly, victim perceives the bully as having power, and occurring in small groups. There are two distinct forms of aggression within this definition, overt (physical) and relational (verbal). Crick and Grotpeter (1995) state that the distinction between overt and relational aggression is related to gender. To be specific, the types of aggressive behaviors displayed within peer groups differ between same-sex groups. It was previously assumed that girls used strictly relational aggression in contrast to boys who primarily used overt forms of aggression. Research shows that levels of overt aggression are higher in males; however, the levels of...
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