Ivory Towers: The dirty dozen speak out
Wednesday 18 August 1993
The research was based on questionnaire responses by 229 female and 187 male students at an American university. The questions they were asked were: 'What is the most anger- provoking behaviour a man/woman of your age could display to you?'. They were then asked to respond in a single word or phrase to all possible combinations of: 'What do you think is the worst thing a man/woman can call a man/woman?'
Analysis of the results revealed seven types of behaviour that annoy people, and twelve categories of insult. The seven rages of man (and woman) are caused by physical aggression, verbal aggression, insensitivity, condescension, hurting another person, dishonesty, and inefficiency.
The dirty dozen verbal insults are to imply that someone is: worthless, emotionally inadequate, sexually inadequate, promiscuous, homosexual, in the wrong sex role, unethical, cowardly, or conceited, with 'obscenity', 'sexist term' and 'racist term' completing the list.
While women tend to be deeply offended by insensitivity and condescending behaviour, men are more affected by seeing another man hurting someone or being rude to a woman. Both genders are considerably more tolerant of dishonesty in men than in women. When it comes to verbal behaviour, everyone agrees that it is terribly rude, whether you are a man or a woman, to call a woman 'promiscuous', but men hardly mind being accused of promiscuity at all.
Curiously, men do take offence if called homosexual although women mind far more if another woman casts doubt on their sexual orientation than if a man does so.
A summary of the table of verbal insults would suggest that the worst thing you can call a man is a worthless, limp-wristed, lily-livered (obscenity deleted), while to anger a woman, you would do better to call her a lying (obscenity deleted) slut.
The research confirms the findings of William Congreve: 'Heav'n has no rage, like love to hatred turn'd, Nor Hell a fury, like a woman scorn'd', but to annoy a man, try violence.
TVJamie's Sugar Rush reveal's campaigning chef's new foe
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
- 2 'Heartbreaking' Syria orphan photo wasn't taken in Syria and not of orphan
- 3 Bob Geldof offers to take four refugee families into his home 'immediately' as he condemns humanitarian crisis as a ‘f**king disgrace'
- 4 Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
- 5 Bryan Cranston speaks candidly about wealth
Anne Hathaway is already being stung by Hollywood ageism, aged 32
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series
The Lobster trailer: Colin Farrell has 45 days to find a lover or he'll be turned into an animal
Spanish town saved by botched restoration of century-old Christian 'Ecce Homo' fresco of Jesus
'Beasts of No Nation': Netflix releases trailer of first feature film, starring Idris Elba
Britain to take more refugees as Cameron bows to pressure after more than 250,000 back our campaign
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Make your voice heard: Sign The Independent's petition to welcome refugees