The effects of intimacy and target sex on direct aggression: Further evidence

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The effects on aggression of target sex and relationship with the target were investigated using self-report data. One hundred and seventy-four participants (115 female) reported on acts of direct aggression in the last two years towards: intimate partners, known and unknown same-sex targets, and known and unknown opposite-sex targets. Women’s self-reported aggression was higher towards partners than other targets, replicating previous findings regarding women’s intimate partner aggression. Women’s aggression was consistently higher towards same-sex than opposite-sex targets, but the effect of knowing the target was inconsistent. Men’s self-reported aggression was more frequent towards same-sex than opposite-sex targets – including intimate partners – and more frequent towards known than unknown targets. Results are discussed with reference to a partner-specific reduction in women’s fear, and sex differences in threshold for classifying someone as ‘known well.’ Limitations of the present sample and suggestions for future work are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)272-280
Number of pages9
JournalAggressive Behavior
Issue number4
Early online date13 Jun 2012
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2012


  • Aggression
  • Sex differences
  • Target sex
  • Intimacy


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