Gender and Aggressive Behavior. A Meta-Analytic Review of the Social Psychological Literature

Alice H. Eagly, Valerie J. Steffen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

912 Scopus citations


In our meta-analytic review of sex differences in aggressive behavior reported in the social psychological literature we found that although men were somewhat more aggressive than women on the average, sex differences were inconsistent across studies. The magnitude of the sex differences was significantly related to various attributes of the studies. In particular, the tendency for men to aggress more than women was more pronounced for aggression that produces pain or physical injury than for aggression that produces psychological or social harm. In addition, sex differences in aggressive behavior were larger to the extent that women, more than men, perceived that enacting a behavior would produce harm to the target, guilt and anxiety in oneself, as well as danger to oneself. Our interpretation of these results emphasizes that aggression sex differences are a function of perceived consequences of aggression that are learned as aspects of gender roles and other social roles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)309-330
Number of pages22
JournalPsychological bulletin
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 1986

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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