Aggression, Gender and Heat

Unfortunately aggression is everywhere in our society, in schools, businesses, homes and streets. It always has been and it always will be. Science can help us understand more about this topic and hopefully help us in reducing it. Today we look at a few interesting questions and dig into the science for some answer.

FYI – in science world definitions are really important and in this case of the research question above aggression is “A behavior that is intended to harm another individual who does not wish to be harmed (Baron and Richardson 1994)

Are men more aggressive than women?

Not really overall – however, the types of aggression differ. 

Men are certainly more likely to be violent (and this is consistent across very different cultural norms), but women are more likely to be relationally aggressive.

What’s that you ask? It’s more in the space of leaving people out, making fun, intimidating, ostracizing, and cyberbullying.  

Man in hoody looking very angry

Does heat make you angry?

You are not alone, several decades of studies show links between heat and increases in violence (like actual hot weather not being sexy or other).

Although the data is pretty clear that heat is linked with violence, one must be careful with casual relationships.

Is it perhaps that heat is linked to crowds as we are more likely to be out and about and then that is linked to more violence.

Although this doesn’t explain the links to in-home violence and road rage (those without aircon are more likely to rage on hot days).

So while the scientists rage it out, what are you doing to keep yourself cool this summer (or next for our NH friends)?

Pale white man, looking at ocean with life saving ring on his arm.  He looks like he'd be  more comfortable drinking beer and eating pies than life saving.

What has wealth got to do with murder?

We have this tacit understanding that there is a link between poverty and violence. However, there is a more telling factor and that is the wealth gap. 

Comparing data on murders in Denmark (low gap) and the US (high gap) is enlightening. 

This also plays out for comparing different areas within countries i.e. more wealth gap, more murder? 

Why is this?

Hard to know, it may be that competition for scarce resources brings out aggression in young men (the main perpetrators and victims in murder by far). If this is the link then evolution could be to blame. 

You see – competition from an evolutionary angle – especially between males is linked to aggression. 

But of course, evolutionary explanations are pretty hard to put to the test. 

What can we learn from all this. I’m not sure about you, but I think I am going to move to Denmark with its lack of a large wealth gap and gold weather. Maybe this is why they are so happy over there.

Yours as always

Dr Rachel x


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