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Women's Aggression
Organizers: John Archer, University of Central Lancashire, UK
Anne Campbell, University of Durham, UK

The four papers in this symposium deal with different aspects of women's aggression.  First, the different styles of aggression of girls and boys; second, differences in bullying among women and men prisoners; third, physical aggression by women in heterosexual relationships; and finally a broader perspective on women's aggression from evolutionary and feminist perspectives.




The physical aggression of women and men to their partners: A quantitative analysis
John Archer(University of Central Lancashire, UK)
Meta-analyses of sex differences in physically aggressive acts between heterosexual partners, and their consequences, are reported the following conclusions are drawn from the review: (I) Among modern western samples, more women than men typically show some form of physical aggression, (ii) More women than men are injured as a result of partner aggression, (iii) There are a substantial minority of men who are injured by their partners.  The findings partially support aspects of both feminist and family interaction positions on relationship violence.(back to top)

Concomitants of physical, verbal, and indirect aggression
Kaj Bjorkqvist and Karin Osterman (Abo Akademi University, Finland)
Ari Kaukiainen and K.M.J. Lagerspetz (University of Turku, Finland)
This research concerns the concomitants of direct and indirect styles of aggression, which have previously been associated with boys and girls, respectively.  Social intelligence correlated with all types of conflict behavior, but was more strongly related to indirect than to verbal aggression, and weakest to physical aggression.  All types of aggression were weakly related to external LOC, and to traditional sex role attitudes among boys.  The implications for female aggression of the different styles of aggression and their concomitants are discussed.(back to top)

Styles of bullying amongst female incarcerated offenders
Jane Ireland (HM Young Offenders Institution, Lancaster, UK)
Two studies addressing direct and indirect bullying amongst female inmates are discussed.  In study 1 females reported more indirect bullying than males, whereas males reported more direct bullying.  However, in study 2 more males than females reported bullying others directly and indirectly, and there was a trend for more females than males to report being victimised directly.  The studies are discussed with reference to theories describing gender differences in direct and indirect forms of aggression.(back to top)

Staying alive: Evolution, culture, and women's intra-sexual aggression
Anne Campbell (University of Durham, Durham, UK)
Aggression between females is examined from a co-evolutionary perspective.  Evolutionary considerations suggest that females' tendency to place a high value on protecting their own life enhanced their reproductive success because infant survival depended more upon maternal (rather than paternal) care and defence.  The implications of this proposal are discussed in terms of its psychological mediation, its consequences for female dominance hierarchies and status-seeking in both primates and humans, and its manifestation in low-risk and indirect strategies of female resource competition.  Under patriarchy, women's aggression has been viewed as a gender-incongruent aberration or as evidence of irrationality.  These cultural impositions have "enhanced" evolutionary-based sex differences by stigmatising the expression of aggression by women.  In response, women's accounts of their own aggression tend to be exculpatory rather than justificatory.  This paper offers an evolutionary account of women's low levels of intra-sexual violence in terms of the necessity of the mother's survival for female reproductive success and examines how this sex difference has been culturally enhanced by stigmatisation of female aggression.(back to top)