Sex Differences in Adolescent Physical Aggression

Evidence From Sixty‐Three Low‐ and Middle‐Income Countries

Published in: Aggressive Behavior, 2018. doi: 10.1002/ab.21799

Posted on RAND.org on November 27, 2018

by Amy Nivette, Alex Sutherland, Manuel Eisner, Joseph Murray

Read More

Access further information on this document at Aggressive Behavior

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

A great deal of research shows that adolescent and adult males are more likely to engage in physical aggression and violence than females are. However, few studies have examined cross-cultural variation in sex differences, particularly among low- and middle-income countries [LMICs]. Based on social role and sexual selection theories,we derived two hypotheses regarding possible variations in sex differences across societal contexts: 1) sex differences increase with societal gender polarization (social role theory) and 2) sex differences are exacerbated in societies where socio-economic opportunities are scarce, unequal, or insecure (prediction derived from sexual selection theory). The current study examined the prevalence of and variation in sex differences in physical aggression, as measured by frequent fighting, among 247,909 adolescents in 63 low- and middle-income countries. The results show that, overall, males were over twice as likely (OR = 2.68; 95% CI = 2.60-2.76) to report frequent fighting in the past 12 months than females. However, sex differences vary significantly across LMICs, wherein countries with higher female prevalence rates have smaller sex differences in frequent fighting. Contrary to expectations derived from social role theory, sex differences in physical aggression decrease as societal gender inequality increased. In regards to sexual selection theory, we find no evidence that sex differences in frequent fighting varies according to societal rule of law or income inequality.

Research conducted by

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit www.rand.org/about/principles.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.