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…
Girls view relational aggression just as harmful as physical aggression, but tend to react more to the experience of being a victim of relational aggression than boys (Paquette & Underwood, 1999). Regardless of tendencies, the choice of tactic is dependent on the situation. It is not out of character for a girl to use physical aggression if under direct physical attack (Björkqvist, 1994). It is apparent that girls choose their aggressive strategy according to the situation, but relational aggression is most commonly effective.
In addition to social group values, a girl's preference to use less physical aggression compared to relational aggression can be the result of development and general social expectations. Some studies have shown that boys' tend to romanticize aggression; however, girls are expected to act more prosocial and in a caring manner. Since girls are expected to play a more social role, they tend to utilize more social rather than physical forms of aggression (Baron, Byrne, & Johnson, 1998).
In most cases, girls are typically physically weaker than males. Some research suggests that girls compensate for their physical weakness by employing a more verbal aggression strategy (Björkqvist, 1994). The verbal form of aggression may be easier to master for girls because of their quick verbal