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J Pers. 1978 Mar;46(1):23-42.

Physical/verbal aggression: sex differences in style.


Two studies exploring the use of physical/verbal aggression are reported, the first using women and the second using men as subjects. Both studies allowed subjects to choose between and control the intensity of two response modes: verbal aggression (insults) and physical aggression (electric shock). Aggressive style was investigated over two levels of arousal, sex of experimenter, and sex of provocateur-victim. Results indicated that women aggressed discriminatively in the verbal mode as a function of their arousal, while men were capable of aggressing discriminatively in both the verbal and physical modes. Men who had been disagreed with and punished by a female victim-provocateur in the presence of a male experimenter or by a male victim in the presence of a male experimenter demonstrated high levels of physical aggression compared to the other groups.

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