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Gendered perspectives of aggression: A Q methodological approach

Clark, Greig A. (2016) Gendered perspectives of aggression: A Q methodological approach. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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Previously thought to primarily be a male trait, more recent research efforts into aggression have found that females are just as likely to aggress as males. Rather, gender differences exist in the preferred aggressive styles of males and females. Whilst males tend to be more physically aggressive, female aggression is often less direct, more covert, and tends to target social relationships. However, social forms of aggression are frequently rated as less harmful than direct forms, such as physical or verbal, despite evidence that indirect aggression may be just as harmful as direct aggression. This has implications for the way in which aggressive behaviours, including bullying, are dealt with in several social contexts, including schools, workplaces, and universities. Perceptions of the gendered nature of aggression, and the severity of aggression were investigated using 15 undergraduate students. Using a Q methodological approach, participants underwent two sorting tasks, ranking 25 bullying scenarios according to their own perceptions. Results indicated that there is universal agreement about male and female behaviours. Physical behaviours were most associated with males, and social behaviours were most associated with females. One emergent perspective strongly rated physical behaviours as the most severe form of aggression, while several social scenarios were ranked among the least severe. It was theorised that the ‘visibility’ of physical behaviours perhaps influenced perceptions. The other perspective appeared to rank based on perceived harm to the victim as the ranking order in this perspective was far more diverse. Overall, designated ‘female’ behaviours were perceived to be less severe than designated ‘male’ behaviours. Implications of the findings and directions for future research are addressed.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Law
Supervisor(s): Zander, Jaimie
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