Final 1: Men, Women, and Aggression (final proposal)

This research topic submitted by Jenny Kasubski and Kim Carter ( on 2/25/98.

Jenny Kasubski Kim Carter
WCP 222


This research paper will study acts of aggression committed against females by males cross-culturally. We plan to also relate the study of this topic to Jane Goodall's books about the chimpanzee communities. In addition to the information in Goodall's books, we also plan to study briefly the sociobiological stance on aggression, as well as consult the internet for studies and additional information on the subject of aggression towards women.

We intend to prove that acts of aggression are focused more on women groups because of hormonal and socialization differences. We intend to prove our hypothesis through the information that we have gathered from books and the internet. Currently, we are examining different hypotheses from Psychology of Women: Behavior in a Biosocial Context. Based upon this reading we will discuss the possibility of both socialization as a determinant of aggressive behavior and biological factors affecting this as well. We will consider the possibilities of Wright's arguments in The Moral Animal as he suggests that primate and human males act individually out of sexual competition for females and collectively because of status concerns for self and friends. After comparing these hypotheses and considering our own observations, we will argue our own hypothesis regarding why and how aggression against women is enacted by men.
We also plan to contact Miami University public safety for a closer look at violence on campus, the Women's Center for views on violence against women, and we are also in the process of creating our own survey to collect additional data. Once our information has been gathered, we will relate the aggressive behavior of humans towards women to that of the chimpanzee community in Goodall's works. (Insert chimpanzee story here)

We will conduct a survey relating to this issue which will be issued during an NS lecture, as well as to the students in a few of our other classes. Some of the questions which will appear on our survey will be:

-Are you male or female?
-Have you ever been the victim of a violent crime?
-If so, did you know your attacker(s)?
-What was the nature of the crime?( ie. sexual assault, robbery, etc.)
-Do you know someone who has been the victim of a violent crime?
-If so, did he/she know his/her attacker(s)?
-If so, what was his/her gender?
-Did he/she know his/her attacker(s)?
-What was the gender of his/her attacker(s)?
-Have you ever acted violently upon another person?
-If so, what was the victim's gender?

The data that we collect from the survey will be posted on statview so that the results can be easily viewed. In addition to our own findings, we will also post information from Miami University public safety, as well as statistical information found in books relating to violence against women.

We will compare our findings with other statistics (public safety and other research materials) to find out if our hypothesis coincides. Also, we will discuss Goodall's findings in her studies of the chimpanzee community and compare it to human aggressive behavior. We will also look into the sociobiological, sociocultural and purely biological standpoints towards why humans act aggressively.

In our conclusion, we will discuss whether our hypothesis was proven. Based upon the above information and findings, we will discuss our hypothesis and alter the hypothesis if it has changed. We will argue our standpoint based upon what we have found and then present our statistics and/or others' arguments for support.


(Pages 152-153 Williams)
-Theory 1- Sexual differences in aggression due to differential treatment of children suggest that; A. Aggression is an acceptable component of the masculine model in our society, B. Aggression is not desirable/appropriate when incorporated by females

-Theory 2- Sexual differences in aggression have a biological basis;
1) Males are more aggressive than females in all societies for which evidence is available.

2) Sex differences appear around age two-two and a half years
when evidence indicates no difference in reward or punishment
for aggressive behavior

3) Similar sex differences are found in both human and subhuman species.

4) Aggression is related to levels of sex hormones and can be changed by changing the levels of these hormones.

-Experimental Findings-
-Aggressive response of female monkeys treated with the hormone testosterone from age six and half months
-3 treated females and 3 untreated males were placed together and observed during three time periods ( close to one year, year and half, two years)
-Before treatment, the males were more aggressive than the females and after the treatment, the females were more aggressive than the males
-2 females attacked and subdued the 2 dominant males and maintained this dominant until the end of the study, long after the administration of testosterone was discontinued.

(Pages 221-231, Gilligan)

"Testosterone facilitates and stimulates aggressive responses to environmental stimuli, just as estrogens and progesterones inhibit them."

On patterns of aggression among young males
"This pattern is also seen across a wide variety of species, including our closest primate 'relatives.' For example, in all mammalian species (including the human), males are reported to be the more aggressive sex. Among chimpanzees, males have been described as significantly more aggressive than females."

"Gender codes reinforce the socialization of girls and women, socializing them to acquiesce in, support, defend, and cling to the traditional set of social roles, and to enforce conformity on other females as well."

"Men are honored for activity (ultimately violent activity); and they are dishonored for passivity (or pacifism) which renders them vulnerable to the charge of being a non-man."

(Pages 45-50, Sapolesky)

"Males tend to have higher testosterone levels in their circulation than do females, and to be more aggressive. Times of life when males are swimming in testosterone-for example, after reaching puberty-correspond to when aggression peaks."

"the proof comes with the knife...Remove the source of the testosterone in species after species, and levels of aggression typically plummet. Reinstate normal testosterone levels afterward with injections of synthetic testosterone, and aggression returns."

On the removal of the source of testosterone
"On the average it (the level of aggression) declines, but rarely to zero, and not at all in some individuals."


Sapolesky, Robert. Discover , March 1997. Pp. 45-50.

Gilligan, James. Violence. G. P. Putnam's sons, New York. 1996.

Williams, Juanita H. Psychology of Women: Behavior in a Biosocial Context, George J. McCleod Limited, Toronto. 1974.

Goodall, Jane. Through A Window.

Wright, Robert. The Moral Animal.

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