How Male Aggression Can Lead To Violence Against Women

Violence is a global issue that has received a lot of attention during recent years. It is a social issue that can be seen in people from different backgrounds. It is an extreme form of aggression that comprises a range of intentional physical, mental, emotional and verbal violent behaviours which negatively impact a person’s physical and mental health and self-concept. Men specifically have a more prominent reputation of upholding the classification for being more violent than women. There is a substantial amount of evidence that supports this claim with numerous studies discussing why this hypothesis is a common analysation topic. The most frequent form of aggression men distribute is Intimate Partner Violence (IPV), the most common crime in Australia. IPV contributes to more death, disability and illness in women aged 15 to 44 than any other preventable risk factor. Parental investment and sexual selection theory are big causal factors that come into play for men becoming aggressive. There is substantial evidence that supports the statement men are more violently aggressive than women, this essay will explain the reasons why and the relationship between other factors, such as the neural, genetic and environmental factors of men being violent as well as the significance of IPV against women, but also deciphering whether men are more violently aggressive than women.

Researchers have been looking at factors that can distinguish why someone becomes violent. It’s been found that genes and the environment act together to create violent or aggressive behaviour but doesn’t determine anything. A recent study identified 40 genes that relates to aggressive behaviour in humans and mice. They share a common genetic base regarding violent behaviour, the 40 genes they had identified can lead to a risk of aggressive behaviours. Fernandez Castillo claims that some genes are likely to function as important nodes of the genic networks which are prone to violent behaviour, if any of the central genes are altered it could affect the other genes and lead to the aggressive phenotype. The new study combines several analyses evaluating the genetic basis of aggressiveness from different perspectives. Aggression represents an evolutionary behaviour fostered by stressful life events to preserve one’s own life. Epigenetics’ involves genetic control by factors other than an individual’s DNA sequence. Epigenetic changes can switch on or off and determine which proteins are transcribed. They’re involved in many normal cellular processes. The epigenetic control of biological pathways including neuroendocrine, serotonergic and oxytocinergic pathways significantly mediates the behavioural responses to the environment. Lower oxytocin concentration in the central nervous system represents a predisposing factor to human aggressive behaviour. Epigenetic changes in these pathways can alter brain morphology and functioning in areas that hold a crucial role in cognitive and emotional processes underlying aggression.

Violence against women in Australia is one of the highest forms of violence in the country. Women are being killed and physically abused by men that display high forms of aggression. Thousands of women develop trauma and are victims of IPV. Physical aggression in the form of biting, kicking or hitting is a common behaviour in childhood which starts around one year of age and peaks around 3.5 years of age. Women also engage in aggression; however, their victims are usually the same sex, women tend to insult physical appearances of their rivals. The aggression committed by women is less violent than those committed by men – this can be seen by the theory of parental investment and sexual selection. In terms of male aggression against females a study was conducted showing cases of spousal violence, husbands reported frustration over inability to control wives with accusations of infidelity, the most common complaint. Husbands kill wives under the suspicion of infidelity and when the woman ends the relationship. Extreme aggression is less frequently committed by women but occurs out of defending against an enraged husband suspecting infidelity and after prolonged history of physical abuse where the woman can’t escape. An evolutionary psychological perspective on human aggression contains many limitations. The sex difference in minimum obligatory parental investment means that males can produce more offspring than females, the greater the variance in reproduction the more ferocious the competition within the sex shows higher variance. In a study of competitor derogation, men were more likely than women to physically dominate their rivals to render them less desirable to women. In a sample of homicides committed in Chicago from 1965 - 1980, 86% were committed by men. Studies show men are more often than women to be the killers. Evolutionary model of intrasexual competition provides foundation for an explanation of why men engage in violent forms of aggression more often than women and why other men compose the majority of victims. In species where females invest on offspring than males, females become the valuable limiting resource on reproduction for males. They feel constrained by their ability to gain sexual access to the high invested females.

Due to neural, environmental and cognitive factors men are seen to be more violent than women and this has been displayed from an early age and developed over time. To further understand how one becomes violent, researchers and psychologists are consistently trying to conduct various studies to determine how control factors contribute to the correlation or implementing violent behaviour towards others. From the discovery of 40 genes that have a crucial effect in the epigenetic changes in causing aggressive behaviour to environmental factors from family and media factors, it has been shown that men are more likely to be triggered to gender differences in violence are a real phenomenon which has a variety of neurobiological and socio-cultural implementations. A crucial task for future research in describing valid environmentally mediated factors that interact with biological factors to increase the risk for individual violent behaviour. Gaining further knowledge into the neurobiological realm of gender differences in violence proves to be important for the development for individual human violence in the future.

Reference List

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  • Buss, D. M., & Shackelford, T. K. (1997). Human Aggression in Evolutionary Psychological Perspective. Clinical Psychology Review, 17(6), 606-619.
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  • Palumbo, S., Meriotti, V., Iofrida, C., & Pellgrini, S. (2018). Genes and Aggressive Behavior: Epigenetic Mechanisms Underlying Individual Susceptibility to Aversive Environments. Retrieved 3 October 2019, from
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  • A new study identifies 40 genes related to aggressive behavior in humans and mice: On mice and humans: Genes, evolution and aggressiveness. (2018). Retrieved 2 October 2019, from
16 August 2021
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