Aggression Type Influences Perceptions of a Woman’s Body Size, Personality, and Behavior

Published on 2020-05-13T12:14:14Z (GMT) by
<div><p>Although women engage in both physical and nonphysical aggression, little is known about how aggression type influences perceptions of their morphology, personality, and social behavior. Evolutionary theory predicts that women avoid physical aggression due to risk of injury, which could compromise reproductive success. Engaging in physical aggression might therefore decrease women’s perceived mate value. However, physical aggression could be advantageous for some women, such as those who are larger in size and less vulnerable to injury. This presents the possibility that physically aggressive women might be perceived as larger and not necessarily lower in mate value. These hypotheses have not been tested. Across three studies, I used narratives to test the effect of aggression type (physical, verbal, indirect, nonaggressive) on perceptions of women’s height, weight, masculinity, attractiveness, and social status. In Studies 1 and 2, participants perceived a physically aggressive woman to be both larger and more masculine than nonphysically aggressive women. In Study 3, participants perceived both a physically aggressive woman and a nonaggressive woman to be larger than an indirectly aggressive woman; the effect of aggression type on perceptions of a hypothetical man’s height was not significant. I also found some evidence that aggression type influenced perceptions of attractiveness and social status, but these were small and inconsistent effects that warrant further study. Taken together, the results suggest that physical and indirect aggressive behavior may be associated with certain morphological and behavioral profiles in women.</p></div>

Cite this collection

Palmer-Hague, Jaime L. (2020): Aggression Type Influences Perceptions of a Woman’s Body Size, Personality, and Behavior. SAGE Journals. Collection.