The belief that violence is observed mostly in men than in women in the daily observations has a stable base in the records of crime and also in the common perception about gender. The number of men involved in criminal offenses is far greater than that of women. According to Krahé (59), in regard to the overall gender differences in aggressive behavior, the evidence that is there shows that men show more aggressive behavior than women. He further notes that a keener inspection gives a suggestion that the difference in gender violence vary as a function of the kind of violent behavior under consideration.
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Aggressive behavior is portrayed starting from childhood. Boys, in general terms, display much more aggressive behavior than girls. The relative levels of aggression in both sexes go down as the boys and girls grow older and the move towards settling conflict gradually turns out to be through employing strategies that do not involve aggression. But in the case where aggression persists, the outcome is that the affected individuals may form up groups or gangs that are violent and may engage in criminal activities. The individual differences in gender aggression greatly remain steady from childhood to adulthood. Adults exhibit gender differences in aggression just in the same way as adolescents as well as young children.
As noted by Krahé (61), there are three different sets of explanations put forward on the gender difference that is there in regard to violence. The explanations include; hormonal, sociobiological model, and the social role model. The higher male violence is attributed to the hormone testosterone under the hormonal explanation. This is supported by the studies that involve subhuman species in regard to the role testosterone plays in aggression among the animals.
The tendency for men to be more violent and cause aggression than women is more inclined towards the kind of aggression that bring about physical harm and pain than that one that cause social injury or psychological harm. It has been established that the difference in sex in terms of aggression are intense to a point that women perceive more than men that an aggressive behavior would cause harm to the victim as well as anxiety and a sense of guilt to oneself and even pose danger to oneself. It has been suggested that gender differences in aggression are a function of the perceived outcomes of the act that are learned as features of gender roles and other social roles (Eagly & Steffen, 309).
According to Krahé (64), the evolutionary (biological) approach and the social approach that are used to explain the gender differences are similar in a way that the two attempt to offer an explanation to gender differences as being associated with the various challenges encountered by both men and women in the process of trying to adapt to the demands of the environment. The evolutionary approach, however, traces the base of this process through which both men and women seek to adapt to the environmental demands in the early human species history putting focus on differences in reproductive strategy between men and women. This approach does not put much consideration about the variations in aggression that exist among cultures and periods within history and looks at the similarity in aggression across cultures as the evidence that supports its stand.
On the other hand, the social role approach gives an explanation of gender differences in terms of social behavior as the outcome of an individual person’s adaptation to certain specific social structural conditions and needs of the role that varies with time as well as across the societies.
However, these two approaches, even though they may differ in the basic ways in the importance attached to biological against social origins of sex differences, they both give an enhancement of understanding gender differences in aggressive behavior which gives a representation of one of the most reliable bodies of proof in the aggression psychology.
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It has been found that men are more physically aggressive than women, even if the difference is just moderate in magnitude. Men still go beyond women in regard to verbal aggression, but the variation here is far much less intense as compared to physical aggression. However, according to Krahé (65), research carried out in the times that have just passed reveal that women may resort to indirect types of aggression that is relational to a higher level more than men.
Even if there is very minimal support for the role the testosterone hormone in men in giving an explanation to the higher level of male aggressive behavior, the discussion on how to offer an explanation to the difference in gender aggression has revolved around the social role approach against the evolutionary approach. There is attribution by the evolutionary approach to differential reproductive strategies in both men and women of the gender differences. On the other hand, the social role approach puts much emphasis on the importance of the roles that are gender specific and the standards to which both men and women have to become accustomed to in their social behavior.
Eagly, Alice & Steffen Valerie. “Gender and aggressive behavior: A meta-analytic review of the social psychological literature”. Psychological Bulletin. Vol. 100(3), 1986, 309 – 330.
Krahé Barbara. “The social psychology of aggression”. Psychology Press, 2001.ISBN0863777759, 9780863777752.