Mean girls: Scientists say women have evolved to be ‘indirectly aggressive’
Study published by the Royal Society explores the ways women compete with each other without resorting to violence
An authoritative study published by the Royal Society has explored the scientific basis for “competition and aggression” between women, and found that they have most likely evolved to be mean to one another.
Dedicating a whole journal issue to the theme and inviting international evidence from across disciplines, the research found that the “constraints of offspring production and care” meant that it favoured the female of the species to resort to low-risk forms of aggression.
Scientists said that since Darwin first put forward his theories on reproductive competition, extensive research has been done on how more expendable men developed larger body size, use of weaponry and ritualised displays of aggression.
Little work has gone into the equivalent for women, however, with studies more likely to focus on more direct reproductive traits such as mate selection.
“Despite a history of being largely overlooked, evidence is now accumulating for the widespread evolutionary significance of female competition,” the report’s authors Paula Stockley and Anne Campbell explained.
Writing in the introduction to December’s issue of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, they described their work as a first step in “a new expansion of interest in female competition”.
“Females compete for resources needed to survive and reproduce, and for preferred mates,” Dr Stockley said.
“Although female aggression takes diverse forms, under most circumstances relatively low-risk competitive strategies are favoured.”
The scientists added that they found “coalitions or alliances may reduce risk of retaliation” – a theory to explain why groups of women gang up on others – as famously documented in the 2004 Lindsay Lohan film Mean Girls.
Professor Campbell, an evolutionary psychologist at Durham University, nonetheless told the website LiveScience that while meanness has traditionally been seen as a female weapon, it can be used in just the same way by men.
“There is virtually no sex difference in indirect aggression,” Professor Campbell said. “By the time you get to adulthood, particularly in work situations, men use this too.”
- 1 Drugs Live cannabis trial: Hash is less harmful than any other drug, expert claims
- 2 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 3 Turkish Airlines flight TK 726 crash-lands on Nepal runway in dense fog
- 4 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
- 5 The 'sex selfie stick' lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina
Turkish Airlines flight TK 726 crash-lands on Nepal runway in dense fog
George Clooney and Amal fail to get special treatment at New York restaurant
Cindy Crawford 'un-PhotoShopped' viral Marie Claire image was doctored, photographer claims
'A girl is more responsible for rape than a boy': The statement that shocked the world... except India
The 'sex selfie stick' lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'
Boris Nemtsov shot dead: Outspoken Putin critic who had expressed fears for his life is killed near the Kremlin
£15000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Waterlooville based softwa...
Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Developer (C#, VB & ASP.Net, SQL Server, TSQL) - Pe...
£16000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Associate Sales Consultant i...
£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Well established and expanding ...