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Essay about Gender Differences in Aggression

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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 relational aggression are equal between both males and females (Björkqvist, Lagerspetz, & Kaukiainen, 1992). 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 ...


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...general social roles and reactions to aggression of girls and boys help to determine the usage of overt and relational aggression.

References
Baron, R. A., Byrne, D., & Johnson, B. T. (1998). Exploring Social Psychology. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Berndt, T. J. (1982). The features and effects of friendship in early adolescence. Child Development, 53, 1447-1460.
Björkqvist, K. (1994). Sex differences in physical, verbal, and indirect aggression: A review of recent research. Sex Roles, 30, 177-188.
Björkqvist, K., Lagerspetz, K., & Kaukiainen, A. (1992). Do girls manipulate and boys fight? Developmental trends in regard to direct and indirect aggression. Aggressive Behavior, 18, 117-127.
Crick, N. R., & Grotpeter, J. K. (1996). Children’s treatment by peers: Victims of relational and overt aggression. Development and Psychopathology, 8, 367-380.
Grotpeter, J. K., & Crick, N. R. (1996). Relational aggression, overt aggression, and friendship. Child Development, 67, 2328-2338.
Paquette, J. & Underwood, M. (1999). Gender differences in young adolescents’ experiences of peer victimization: Social and physical aggression. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 45, 242-265.


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