Friday, October 12, 2012

Desire for revenge, not anger, helps explain why men are more physically aggressive

New from the Journal of Research in Personality:
Past research indicates that men are more physically aggressive than women, but very little research has examined mediators of this gender difference. Indeed, the only established finding to date is that one plausible mediator – namely trait anger – shows no reliable gender difference whatsoever. Drawing on sexual selection theory and social-learning theories, we predicted that revenge may mediate this gender difference even though anger does not. Three studies using both personality questionnaires (Studies 1 and 2) and objective laboratory measures of aggression (Study 3) provided support for this contention. The results provide some of the first evidence for a reliable mediator of gender difference in physical aggression.
And here their version of sexual selection theory is spelled out:
Sexual selection theory is the most prominent evolutionary explanation of gender differences in physical aggression. According to this theory, men are typically under greater evolutionary pressures to behave aggressively than women. Because women are sometimes unavailable for reproduction due to pregnancy, women are argued to be a more valuable reproductive resource for which men must compete. Men can do so by aggressively excluding other men from mating opportunities or by seeking to attract women. Evolutionary theorists have traditionally argued that men mainly seek to attract women by establishing a more dominant position in the social hierarchy.
According to Daly and Wilson, these factors have converged and made men more prone to aggressive retaliation in the face of minor provocations. In order to deter male rivals from aggression and to achieve a dominant status, men need to establish a reputation for “toughness” (i.e., that they are not vulnerable to mistreatment by others). Thus, even minor insults demand swift and forceful retaliation.
Consistent with this, crime statistics and laboratory experiments have both shown that men are more likely to respond to trivial provocations with extreme retaliation. A large proportion of murders can be attributed to men responding to minor provocations, but similar incidences are exceedingly rare among women and. Moreover, laboratory experiments show that priming status goals leads men (but not women) to be more physically aggressive in the face of minor provocations.

6 comments:

Jim Bowery said...

The fact that Marcia Guttentag's 1983 book "Too Many Women?: The Sex Ratio Question" has suddenly grabbed the attention of the "science" fashionistas at Discover magazine is most curious.

I noticed "the sex ratio question" when I went from a teacher's university (University of Northern Iowa) to an engineering uiversity (University of Illinois) in the early 1970s. The impact of sex ratio on developmental psychology during those socially critical college years clearly forms the basis of ego structure for vast demographies. Guttentag's formulation was rather myopically feminine but at least she noticed the variable at around the time in history when it was having its greatest impact: Boomers were making their first attempt to form fertile families in 1983. What Guttentag failed to mention, and what everyone else in the social "sciences" has failed to mention, is that at precisely that time, mortgage rates spiked to 19% -- historically catastropic for family formation -- and this on top of the fact that women were entering the workforce in massive numbers suppressing male earning power while birth control technology was enabling them to postpone childbirth until mongolism became a badge of religious virtue among conservatives.

And do I really need to even mention how the massive immigration of males under government protection, a viciously unnatural state of affairs, eviscerated masculine nature?

After 40 years, is Guttentag's myopia the best that the social sciences has to offer?

Anonymous said...

"Boomers were making their first attempt to form fertile families in 1983."

Don't you mean 1963?

My mother was born in 1946, married in 1964, and had two children 1965 and 1967.

Anti Money Laundering said...

Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.

Jim Bowery said...

Anonymous wrote: "My mother was born in 1946, married in 1964, and had two children 1965 and 1967."

One of the travesties of sociology is the failure to distinguish between what happened to early boomers vs the mid to late boomers.

The early boomers took up the employment and real estate slack before those born in the mid to late 50's -- the peak of the boomer demography. That, along with a number of other factors, led to delayed family formation efforts. See Elizabeth Warren's talk on the disappearing middle class". Things started changing in earnest about the time the boomer hump was 18 -- the age your mother was when she was married a decade earlier.

PS: If you look at our "boomer" presidents, for instance, you'll notice we have a string of early boomers, skip the mid boomers entirely and end up with an African post-boomer. Hardly "representative" of the boomers. A similar phenomenon has been showing up in other rent-seeking positions such as civil service -- although there allowances were made for white female mid-boomers.

Anti Money Laundering said...

Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him.

Anonymous said...

Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him.