Attachment theory as a predictor of female aggression
Beckner, Helen Minette
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A large body of research exists relative to male aggression. Studies over the past 30 years, especially as related to male-to-female intimacy violence in a domestic context, have contributed greatly to a better understanding of aggressive male behavior. However, it is suggested that a more balanced approach to research on aggression should include studies related to female aggression. A search of the current literature indicates that this process has begun; however, studies tend to report a different dynamic at work in aggressive women versus aggressive men. It appears that overall, female aggression more than male aggression, has a stronger relational component. It is the case that females can be aggressive and place substantial importance on the relationships in their lives. Attachment theory addresses the salient issue of relationships and is such a broad and complete theory that it incorporates aggressive behaviors as well. Therefore, this study seeks to expand the research related to attachment styles and associated behaviors, in particular as they pertain to the influences upon female aggressive behavior. A study of the relationship between the independent variables of gender, psychopathology/personality, and attachment style and the dependent variable of aggression was conducted. It was hypothesized that attachment style would be a better predictor of female aggression as compared to psychopathology. Additionally, it was hypothesized that psychopathology would be a better predictor of male aggression as compared to attachment style. Significant results were obtained suggesting that attachment is a better predictor of female aggression than psychopathology, with a non-significant observation indicating the reverse being true of males. Specific gender differences related to aggression and violent behavior are presented. Current trends applicable to theories of aggression are discussed, as well as suggestions for future research.