Both boys and girls are likely to show indirect forms of aggression, says a new report funded by the National Institutes of Health and conducted by professors at three universities.
Conventional wisdom has held that boys tend to show aggression physically by engaging in fights, while girls indulge in gossip and social isolation, like that seen in the popular film “Mean Girls.”
After analyzing 148 studies that involved nearly 74,000 children and adolescents, researchers say the myth that girls are more likely to be indirectly or socially aggressive has been spread through different social expectations for boys and girls.
“These conclusions challenge the popular misconception that indirect aggression is a female form of aggression,” according to Noel A. Card, an assistant professor of family studies and human development at the University of Arizona and the study’s lead author.
A version of this article appeared in the September 17, 2008 edition of Education Week