Some reflections on sex differences in aggression and violence

Behavioral and Brain Sciences 22 (2):232-233 (1999)

Abstract

Four issues relevant to sex differences in human aggression and violence are considered. (1) The motivation for play and serious aggression in children and juvenile animals is different. Consequently, the evolutionary explanations for each may be different. (2) Sex differences in intrasexual aggression may be due to effects of the attacker or the target. There is evidence that both males and females are more physically aggressive against males and less physically aggressive against females. The evolutionary explanation for each component of the sex difference in intrasexual aggression may be different. (3) Aggression and violence are defined. The former is the attack, and the latter is the consequent injury or death. The evolutionary explanation for each may not be the same. (4) Most men and women are neither physically aggressive nor criminally violent. The evolutionary explanations of sex differences in aggression and violence should take this polymorphism into account.

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