Susie Boersma

Jannaee Brummell

Luis Mendez



Fischer, A.H., Rodreiguez Mosquera, P.M.(2001), What Concerns Men? Women or Other Men, Psychology, Evolution and Gender (3.1) 5-25.




†††††††††† Fischer et al. critically reviewed studies to evaluate the evolutionary proposal that men's greater aggressiveness is the result of male intra-sexual completion.The reviewed studies do not support the notion that men's aggressive behavior is a direct result of the basic premise of this evolutionary theory.Said theory suggests that men are more aggressive because they have to compete with other men in order to gain sexual access to women.Through a meta-analysis Fischer et al. attempt to explain why the majority of violent crimes are committed by males and not more evenly distributed amongst women.The hypothesis held by Fischer et al. is "that there are other male concerns, especially maintaining respect, or social status, that may play a more important role in the elicitation of anger and aggression than does intra-sexual competition" (2001, 6).

††††††††††† The points presented in this article are: 1) "the summarized main arguments of evolutionary psychologists in relation to sex differences in aggression,"2) "a review of social psychological studies on anger and aggression, with the focus on sex differences in causes and motives to express one's anger and aggression,"3) "a consideration for studies on the cultural variation in masculinity and femininity in relation to anger and aggression in order to find evidence for the influence of social and cultural constituents of aggression (Fischer et al, 2001)."

††††††††††† Evolutionary psychologists explain the universal sex difference in aggression as the direct result of the differential investment of men and women in their offspring.Theory states that women have a higher investment in reproduction.The above statement is holds ground due to the fact that sperm is much more abundant than ovum, and simply because women bare the burden of carrying the offspring.In this respect, a manís parental investment is much smaller, only having to provide the sperm for procreation.††

Differences among the sexes, in regards to parental investment, results in the competition of men, in order to gain sexual access to women.The winner of the competition possesses the opportunity to pass on their genes.Evolutionary psychologists believe "men have inherited psychological mechanisms that dispose them with risky competitive tactics that have shown to be adaptive in human evolutionary history.These tactics involve displays of aggression, which help men in this process of intra-sexual competition (Fischer et al, 2001).A manís aggression has been proven to be a beneficial function in human evolutionary past in process such as gaining status in the group, deterring rivals, defending against attacks or inflicting costs on intra-sexual rivals.

††††††††††† Basically the evolutionary argument claims that aggression serves as a function for men because it enables them to defeat their competitors and to secure possession of women.Fischer et al. notes two main problems with this argument."The first is that it does not seem to take into account the changing social environment human beings live in (2001, 7)."Meaning evolutionary theory is about adaptation to the environment, thus largely ignoring the evolution of human civilization and culture as playing a role.The second related problem being, "that aggression is conceived of as a more or less automatic act that does not seem to be under the control of proximal forces, but mainly of distal ones (2001, 7)."Biologists can prove that when a person is feeling angered the bodies parasympathetic system will engage thus causing a fight or flight mode.Fischer et al. make the point that the bodies muscular system is not the only cause of response.Other factors contribute to the end result such as, social and cultural factors, which leads people to regulate, transform or modify their 'natural' impulses.

††††††††††† The review of social psychological studies on anger and aggression focuses on sex differences in causes of anger and aggression and motives to express one's anger and aggression.To understand what angers a person, you have to have an understanding for that person's concerns.The fact that people have different concerns explains why they may appraise the same events in different ways, resulting in different emotions and emotion expressions.Such concerns may include, physiological needs, such as food and/or psychological concerns, such as safety for oneself or family.An important point to remember is that gender differences in aggression exist because men and women have different concerns, and therefore interpret events that may evoke anger in different ways.

††††††††††† The causes of anger and aggression are different among the sexes.In relationships, women report more anger after betrayal of trust, negligence, unwarranted criticism or condescending remarks, however, men are less concerned with the above and more concerned with women's self-absorption and moodiness.Research also shows that women tend to become more upset when a relationship does not meet their expectations with regard to trust and maintaining a sense of warmth and safety, men on the other hand, get more angry when their partner does not pay attention the them (Fischer et at, 2001).The cases show that men and women value different things in intimate relationships.

††††††††† In the case of intellectual competence, men rather than women, have the tendency to become more aggressive after they have received negative feedback regarding their intelligence. Men reported other causes of aggression to be: feelings of being provoked and offended, threats to personal integrity, and negative remarks regarding intellectual or social inferiority.In essence, men are jannasensitive to signs of disrespect and are therefore more prone to feel provoked and offended than women, which causes greater aggression in the sex.††

According to Ficsher et al men have higher self-esteem than women. In essence men have big egos, due to traditional male identities.However, "The idea that men may be more sensitive to blows to their self-esteem does not imply that men's self-esteem needs to be low as a precondition for becoming aggressive (Fischer et al, 2001)."According to Fischer et al, once threatened, men who have overblown self-images and are likely to become aggressive due to the insult which knocks their self esteem more than a man with an already low self esteem. In many cases aggression or violence is used to restore claim to the lost self-respect (Fischer et al, 2001).

††††††††††† The scenarios above display different concerns among the sexes.Why?The answer has to do with where each gender attributes their self esteem. A manís self esteem is greatly linked to his social status in his male peer group.This fact helps us to understand why men are so sensitive to provocation and loss of respect by others (Fischer et al, 2001).In contrast to the above, a womanís self esteem is largely based upon the quality of her intimate relationships (Fischer et al, 2001).Here the woman is more concerned with harmony and reciprocity. Although threats to self esteem cause equal amounts of aggression in men and women at the same level of intensity, the sources of self-esteem differ. Many people adopt these traditional Western values and attribute them to masculine and feminine identities.These different identities regulate the motives to express and suppress anger.

Several studies have suggested that men and women have different motives, either to suppress or express their anger."Women are not only more concerned about the potential harm done to others, but also the potential violence that could be inflicted upon themselves and their relationships in reaction to their aggression.This implies that women have a stronger motive to suppress their aggression (Fischer et al, 2001)".On the other hand, men want to create the impression that they are in control of situations. Evolution has proven to men that aggression and anger helps to achieve this impression of control.It is believed by men that one who is in control has respect, thus making aggression function for men. Differences are seen here because women evaluate aggression as a failure of one's capacity for self-control, whereas men consider aggression a way of imposing one's control over others (Fischer et al, 2001).

††††††††††† Finally, Fischer et al considered the studies on the cultural variation in masculinity and femininity in relation to anger and aggression in order to find evidence for the influence of social and cultural constituents of aggression.With the implication that there should be cultural variation in the extent to which gender differences in anger and aggression exist, Fischer et al. focused on a large cross-national study.This study included data from thirty-seven countries focusing on emotion, experiences and expression of seven emotions; joy, fear, sadness, disgust, shame and guilt.Participants were asked to describe the last time that they had experienced each of the seven emotions. Then, they were asked to answer questions on various characteristics of the emotional episode.The gender empowerment measure (GEM) was introduced as a cultural factor in the analysis.GEM refers to the extent to which women have powerful roles in a given country (Fischer et al, 2001).Fischer et al hypothesized that gender differences in aggression would vary with gender empowerment measure.

††††††††††† "The results provide support for the idea that male's supremacy in aggression is not invariant over cultures, and that at least in some contexts patterns of male and female anger displays are affected by the actual power of women (Fischer et al, 2001)".Findings suggest that as women gain more power and prestige in a given country their levels of aggression increase, however their levels of aggression that men display remain unchanged (Fischer et al, 2001).††† While it could be possible that male aggression is perceived as justified for men and considered to be part of the male role, women who have more power and status also feel more justified in acting out their aggression (Fischer et al, 2001).†††

††††††††††† ďHonour cultures, in particular, are believed to reinforce masculine concerns that justify male anger and violence, (Fischer et al, 2001)".Honor cultures, such as Mediterranean countries, Arab countries, all share the concern for masculine honor as essential for the maintenance of a positive masculine identity and for being respected by others as a man(Fischer et al, 2001).In most countries, the culturally accepted way to restore male honor is through the expression of angry feelings, engaging in revenge or even committing violence.As a consequence of which these countries have higher male homicide rates, incidents of rape and a higher prevalence of males acting out aggressively.

††††††††††† In conclusion, the cultural variation in the extent to which men are concerned with the respect they receive from others, may explain cultural variation in male aggressiveness.Men are especially sensitive to the maintenance of their social reputation, which if threatened, gives them the right to express their angry feelings, even through violence.Fischer et al. found that research does little to support the idea that male competition to protect womenís attention is the sole or primary reason that men display anger and aggression.Research by Fischer et al. suggest that menís primary reason for aggression is to gain respect from other men.Their research also suggests that men and women are equally aggressive if their concerns and appraisals and are equal. Through this in depth argument Fischer et al. explain that aggression by men and women is not automatic and instinctual but rather controlled by social influences and cultural ideals of masculinity and femininity.




What concerns men? Women or men


I.                    Intra-sexual competition

-         aggression in men is largely due to male competition

-         theory has several problems

                                                               i.      males are aggressive toward women and men. Why?

                                                             ii.      Other factors may contribute to aggression

II.                 hypothesis- cultural factors are more important

-         men are more concerned about social status

III.               Differences between sexes and aggression and anger

-based on concerns

-men and women have different concerns

-similar intensity, but different in expression

IV.              Emotions

Concerns in men and women differ

-physiological, psychological

††††† V†††††††† Similarities between sexes in aggression and anger

††††††††††† ††††† -loyalty, unfair treatment etc . . .

VI.              Differences between sexes

Ėwomen value quality of relationship and men value self-worth and self esteem

†††† VII††††††† Male self-esteem

††††††††††††††††††††††† -higher self-esteem

††††††††††††††††††††††† -need for control

††††††††††††††††††††††† -higher status

††† VIII†††††† Honour vs non-Honour societies

††††††††††††††††††††††† -more violent an aggressive

-         more rape

-         Sexual Shame- purity of women

-         Not necessarily a way to have others form access to ones women, but to protect honour

††† IX††††††††† Gem study

††††††††††††††††††††††† -womenís anger and aggression vary.

-         if in power women are more aggressive

-         suggesting that culture plays a role