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Gender Differences in Aggression

Aggression is a natural response to the stimuli that a human brain perceives as unpleasant. However, a combination of biological factors and socialization has conditioned men and women to demonstrate aggression and respond to it differently (Nivette et al., 2019). Focusing on social aspects specifically and the notion of gender as self-expression based on socially accepted ideas of masculinity and femininity, one will notice a curious pattern. Due to the presence of gender stereotypes, and the obvious difference in physical characteristics, women tend to use verbal tools to express aggression, whereas men are eager to use physical strength.

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The differences in the expression of aggressive intentions in men and women, particularly, men’s propensity to using force as the means of attacking the opponent, is quite self-explanatory given the differences in the development of male and female bodies. However, the results of recent theoretical developments also point to the role of female socialization and the role of gender stereotypes in suppressing aggressive responses in women (Repple et al., 2018). Namely, the Social Information Processing (SIP) theory by Dodge and Huesmann’s script Theory have emerged, explaining aggression as misinterpretation of an ambiguous event and using scripted aggressive behaviors to respond to conflicts respectively, both being linked closely to male socialization (“Aggression research,” n.d.). At the same time, it would also be wrong to insist that the biological potential for showing aggressive behaviors is equally strong in men and women. Indeed, according to recent research, women have proven to return milder EEG and ECG responses to the presence of a factor inciting their aggression (Im et al., 2018). Therefore, the differences in how men and women display aggression are also defined by biological determinants.

The propensity in women toward verbal aggression rather than physical one and the use of physical aggression as a quick way of resolving conflict in men is a notable difference, which can be explained by the changes that men undergo during puberty, which puts them at a significant advantage over women physically. At the same time, the specified dynamics has not been observed in prepubescent boys and girls. Thus, differences in responses to aggression in men and women can be explained both in the context of gender roles and on the biological (hormonal) level.


Aggression research. (n.d.). ScienceDirect.

Im, S., Jin, G., Jeong, J., Yeom, J., Jekal, J., Lee, S. I., Cho, J. A., Lee, S., Lee, Y., Kim, D. H., Bae, M., Heo, J., Moon, C., & Lee, C. H. (2018). Gender Differences in Aggression-related Responses on EEG and ECG. Experimental Neurobiology, 27(6), 526-538.

Nivette, A., Sutherland, A., Eisner, M., & Murray, J. (2019). Sex differences in adolescent physical aggression: Evidence from sixty‐three low‐and middle‐income countries. Aggressive Behavior, 45(1), 82-92.

Repple, J., Habel, U., Wagels, L., Pawliczek, C. M., Schneider, F., & Kohn, N. (2018). Sex differences in the neural correlates of aggression. Brain Structure and Function, 223(9), 4115-4124.

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