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.
filmIn Black Seahe is as audiences have never seen him before
MusicThe band accidentally called Londoners the C-word
Film 'I've never been comfortable on-screen', she says
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Jennifer Lawrence scores first UK top 40 single with Hunger Games track 'The Hanging Tree'
- 2 Shia LaBeouf claims he was raped during #IAMSORRY art installation performance
- 3 'You should come to my house and eat cheeses with me': 4-year-old sends adorable love letter to girl at school
- 4 Scientists predict green energy revolution after incredible new graphene discoveries
- 5 Michael Buerk wishes he killed Jimmy Savile when he had the chance - by pushing him overboard a cruise ship
I'm A Celebrity 2014: Jungle security stepped up after murder and 'suspicious death' close to camp
Star Wars The Force Awakens trailer: What we know about JJ Abrams' film
Exodus Gods and Kings casting controversy: Ridley Scott would never cast 'Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such' in lead role
Jennifer Lawrence scores first UK top 40 single with Hunger Games track 'The Hanging Tree'
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking Lana Del Rey rape video
Obama: The only people with the right to object to immigration are Native Americans
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Ukip mocked after mistaking Westminster Cathedral – for a mosque
Plebgate: Andrew Mitchell’s reputation in tatters as judge rules he used the word ‘pleb’