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Nature, Nurture and Aggression

            In what ways does nature and nurture contribute to sex differences in aggression?.
             Throughout psychological research, there has been little disagreement that there are obvious differences between the sexes in regards to aggressive behaviour. Statistics comparing FBI reports of crime rates between males and females in 1981, show not only that significantly more men were arrested for criminal offences than women, but that the crimes committed by women tended to be crimes less associated with violent attacks on others. In a cross cultural analysis of the behaviour of children, by Maccoby and Jacklin in 1974, reviewing studies of child behaviour dating back to the 1930's, and found that boys were typically more aggressive than girls across different social classes. Olwens (1993), discovered that boys were more likely to become bullies or victims, and Boulton (1995) found that a high proportion of inter-sex aggression in primary schools was associated with initiation by the boys. However a dispute does occur over an explanation for these sex differences, and as with most psychological theories, the dispute centres around the nature-nurture debate. Nature orientated theories involve the role of sex hormones, innate characteristics and natural physiological responses to explain the differences, while nurture orientated theories argue the influence of society and constraints of social roles.
             Ethologists such as Eibl-Eibesfeldt (1989) argue that the contrasting physiological responses between the sexes, to aggressive stimuli help to show that it is an innate characteristic of men to be more aggressive than women. In his study, he found that while both sexes respond to aggressive stimuli with increased blood pressure, given the opportunity to retaliate physically, men's blood pressure will be greatly reduced while women's will be maintained. In the opposite circumstance, if both sexes are forced to accept conciliatory behaviour, women's blood pressure reduces, while men's increases further.

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