The effect of situational contingencies on female retaliative behavior

Deborah C. Richardson, Sandy Bernstein, Stuart P. Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Most studies that have found sex differences in aggression have reported that males are more aggressive than females. Recent evidence, however, suggests that the expectation of female nonaggressiveness may be unwarranted. The present study attempted to reconcile these differences by considering the contingencies of female aggression. 30 undergraduate females competed in a task designed to measure aggression (a) alone, (b) in the presence of a silent observer, or (c) in the presence of a supportive observer. Results indicated that as provocation increased, Ss in the private condition responded more aggressively than did Ss in the public condition. Also, Ss who responded in the presence of an audience were more aggressive when the observer was supportive than when she was silent. It is concluded that the usual findings of female nonaggressiveness may be attributable to women's expectations of disapproval for aggressive behavior. (15 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2044-2048
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 1979


  • presence of silent vs supportive O, aggressive behavior, female college students

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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