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Of Mice and Women.

Aspects of Female Aggression

Eds. Kaj Björkqvist and Pirkko Niemelä

Academic Press, 1992, (414 pages)

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Excerpt from the preface:

Male aggression has been thoroughly studied; however, little has been written on female aggressiveness. We felt a need existed for a compilation of research on this topic from the diverse disciplines that treat it: social psychology, anthropology, animal research, psychoanalysis, and literature. Of Mice and Women: Aspects of Female Aggression is such a compilation, and we hope that it will be a source for researchers in the field. As an interdisciplinary study, it may also serve teaching purposes in distinct disciplines.

Several basic questions are considered in the book. Is the belief that females of all species are less aggressive than males a myth? Is female aggressive behavior perhaps only qualitatively, and not necessarily quantitatively, different from its male counterpart? Does female aggression within the human species differ from that within the animal species? Are gender differences in aggressive patterns caused by hormones and neurobiology, or can they be explained by reference to learning mechanisms? What are typical patterns of female aggression, and how do they develop? Are there perhaps cultures in which the patterns of female aggression differ drastically from those seen in the West, and are women in some cultures more aggressive than women in others?Among the questions examined: Is it a myth that females of all species are less aggressive than males? Does aggression in the female human differ from that in the animal? Are gender differences in aggressive patterns caused by hormones and neurobiology or by learning mechanisms? What are the patterns of female aggression?

Addressing these questions and others of their kind necessitated a multidisciplinary approach. We asked several distinguished scientists from different disciplines - many of whom belong to the International Society for Research on Aggression, and all have conducted research on female aggression - to write a chapter about their research.


Excerpts from reviews

"That males of almost all species are more aggressive than their female counterpart has been a common assertion among aggression researchers. This book challenges that belief and examines the aggressive behaviors of women and female nonhuman animals, behaviors that were largely overlooked in past research. Thus, the topic of Of Mice and Women is important and its study long overdue. ... this is an important book that provides diverse approaches to an important and neglected area of study. Of Mice and Women is valuable to cross-cultural research as a starting point for further inquiry." Judith Gibbons, Saint Louis University, (Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 1993, 24, p. 510.)

"The comprehensive examination of female aggression provided by Of Mice and Women: Aspects of Female Aggression is long overdue. This volume moves the field beyond asking the simplistic question of whether females are less aggressive than males. ... this volume provides a major step forward in our attempts to understand female aggression. Its particular strength lies in the juxtaposition of research from multiple disciplines: anthropology, developmental psychology, and social psychology; animal and biological research; and historical and literary perspectives. In attempting to weave together these multiple perspectives, the editors have produced a complex tapestry." Prof. Debra J. Pepler, LaMarsh Research Centre on Violence and Conflict Resolution, Canada, (Archives of Sexual Behavior, 24, 1995, pp.473-478.)

"One is drawn into Of Mive and Women: Aspects of Female Aggression from the start. The title suggests that it is not only a book about aggression but also the myths and context of aggression. We are not disappointed. ... In sum, the book is a valuable contribution to the literature on aggression." Carol Nagy Jacklin, University of Southern California (Sex Roles, 1993, 29, pp. 312-314.)

"... this text is likely to be useful for any scholar, teacher, and/or researcher who has an interest in the study of aggression. The chapters are short and focused. ... All readers are likely to find something new and eye-opening." Prof. Deborah Richardson, Florida Atlantic University, (Aggressive Behavior, 20, 1994 pp. 399-400.)

"Of Mice and Women indicates the promise of research and theoretical efforts in this area, especially by demostrating so well that female aggression is very much a part of our world." Prof. Victoria Burbank, University of California (American Anthropologist, 1993, 95, pp. 1062-1063.)

"... this work does make an important contribution ... the diversity of approaches and concerns makes for interesting, thought-provoking reading ... the book is a worthwile reference text for those interesed in aggression and its variable relationship with sex." Bill McCarthy, University of Victoria, (Canadian Review of Sociology & Anthropology, 1993, 30, pp. 535-537.)

. "The data and arguments presented demonstrate that women, developing their gender roles in different societies and in different social contexts, also are combative, competitive, and act "with the intention to harm another person, oneself, or an object" (p.4) as Bjorkqvist and Niemela define aggression. The reader is given a rich source of references to be used in teaching and further research ..." Ethel Tobach, (Contemporary Psychology, 1994, 39, p. 894)

"Of Mice and Women is a broad survey of the latest research on female aggression in both animal and human groups. ... The editors are to be commented for bringing together a large number essays that focus on female aggressive behavior itself, thereby dispelling the myth of the passive and nonaggressive female." Laurette T. Liesen, Loyola University of Chicago, (Politics and the Life Sciences, 1994, 13, pp. 150-151.)