SOCI_108_ARCHER_8

SOCI_108_ARCHER_8 - 14 MEN AND VIOLENCE: IS THE PATTERN...

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Unformatted text preview: 14 MEN AND VIOLENCE: IS THE PATTERN UNIVERSAL? DANE AR CHER PA TRI C IA M CDANIEL Men are more likely than women to commit virtu- ally all types of violent crimes in the United States. This male-female difference is one of the best— known findings in American criminology. On closer inspection, however, this apparently “obvious” find— ing turns out to be poorly understood. Is the link be tween gender and violence strictly an American phenomenon, or is the pattern also found in other, very different societies? Also, how well do we un— derstand the reasons for the malenessiviolence link—does this pattern reflect socialization patterns, cultural factors, or biological differences between the sexes? Questions about violence have a special ur- gency in American society. Although violence and aggression are considered important social problems in many societies, the United States leads the industrial world in lethal violence. In any given year, out of every hundred thousand Americans, ten will die from homicide. This homicide rate is 50 times as high as the rate in New Zealand, 30 times as high as the rate in Great Britain, and 10 times as high as the rate in France (Archer and Gartner, 1984). In fact, the American homicide rate is grossly higher than the rate in any other industrial nation. This difference is so large that even societies undergoing civil wars— such as the periodic factional strife in Northern Ireland—do not reach the normal, everyday, av- erage homicide rate of the United States. Clearly, then, violence constitutes an urgent social agenda for American society. THEORJES ABOUT GENDER AND VIOLENCE The research literature on violence and aggression is enormous. Any exhaustive review requires a book-length treatment (e.g., Goldstein, 1986), and thus will not be attempted here. Instead, exemplars of different theoretical traditions will be used to contrast the very different perspectives embedded in research on biological, social, and cultural fac- tors that may cause violence and aggression. Biological theories have provided intriguing but inconclusive findings. For example, Chris— tiansen and Knussman (1987) compared self— ratings of aggressiveness in 117 individuals with actual levels of serum testosterone. The research- ers found a positive correlation—that is, individ- uals with higher self-ratings tended to have higher levels of serum testosterone—but the relationship was not strong. Rada, Laws, and Kellner (1976) compared 52 men imprisoned for rape with a con- trol group of 12 nonviolent prisoners. In general, the two groups did not differ in testosterone lev- els, but the most violent rapists (those who com— mitted additional, brutal violence during the rape) did have significantly higher testosterone levels. Source: Written specifically for this reader, with sotne shortening by Alex Thio. The research was supported by a grant from the H. F. Guggenheim Foundation and by the University of California. 79 80 PART FOUR PHYSICAL VIOLENCE [Research on social factors has shown] that parental socialization tended to foster greater lev- els of aggression in boys (Sears, Maccoby, and Levin, 1957). Parents are more likely to encour— age boys to fight back if they are challenged and—at least in American society—this encour- agement reflects a widespread parental belief that some aggression is a natural, even desirable as- pect of masculinity. The picture is quite different for girls. Parents tend to discourage female ag— gression, or they simply ignore it. In either case, the net effect is the same: female aggression is simply not reinforced. Research by Bardwick (1971) suggested, though, that although girls were socialized away from using direct physical ag- gression (the province of boys), they were social- ized toward other forms of aggression: verbal aggression, subtle interpersonal rejection, manip- ulation, and so on. Still, it is precisely physical aggression that has become urgently problematic, After all, physical aggression—homicide, assault, or rape—wreaks a much greater toll than verbal unpleasantness. Much of the research sketched thus far re- flects American society. . . . It is obviously critical to include in our discussion cultural factors by asking how aggression and the male—violence link differ across societies. Clearly, there are vast soci— etal differences, including the provocative finding that lethal violence is pandemic in some societies but relatively unknown in others (Archer and Gan- ner, 1984). Much of the research on cultural dif- ferences derives from anthropology. For example, Rohner (1976) coded published ethnographic ac- counts of children’s behavior in 14 traditional so- cieties. He found large intersocietal differences in fostering aggressive behavior among children— for some societies, high levels of aggression were the norm; for others, aggression was relatively un- acceptable. The question of the link between maleness and violence also has cultural implications. It may be that boys and girls are socialized for different adult roles—that is, a sexual division of labor. Per- haps many societies socialize boys for adult roles that require greater levels of aggression, such as hunting or intergroup conflict. This “differential gender socialization” hypothesis has been invoked to account for the higher levels of male aggression observed in many societies studied by anthropolo— gists (Tieger, 1980; Segall, 1983). NEW CROSS-CULTURAL RESEARCH Since the late 19803 we have begun a program of work to try to illuminate cultural aspects of vio- lence. The catalyst for this work was the finding by Archer and Gartner (1984) of large, problem- atic, and intriguing differences in the levels of violence across societies, This new work com- plements their use of aggregate statistics on na- tional rates of violent crime by examining social psychological differences across cultures. The basic method used in this new research presents individuals aged 16 to 18 with a series of twelve standardized “problem-solving” tasks. Each task involves a different conflict or problem (an un— faithful spouse, a romantic triangle, disciplining a child, a public dispute, a rejected lover, conflict at work, a quarrel between two nations, etc.). The individual is asked to write an imaginative story about how characters in these situations will re- spond to the conflict. In each case, potential solutions range from nonviolent to violent. The research focus is on the quantities and qualities of violence in the sto- ries as a reflection of attitudes toward, expecta- tions about, and justifications for violence as a means of solving conflicts. The approach can be illustrated here with a conflict situation involv— ing a woman (Mary) and her unfaithful husband (William). The problem is presented to partici- pants, who are asked to write a story about how Mary would respond: William and Mary have been married for two years. They both leave the house during the day, but they have difierent schedules. A friend of Mary '3 tells her that her husband has been seen with another woman while Mary is away from the house. Mary decides to see for herself. After pre- 14 ARCHER AND MCDANIEL MEN AND VIOLENCE 81 tending to leave the house as usual, Mary parks her car halfa blockfrom her house. Twenty min- utes later, Mary sees a woman drive up to the house. Mary sees William come out ofthe house. He gives the woman a long, intimate kiss, and they go inside the house together What will Mary do? The twelve problem—solving situations used in the study are: Unfaithfiil Mary—a husband discovers his wife is unfaithful Unfaithful William—a wife discovers her husband is unfaithful Unhappy Ann—a depressed young woman can- fronts school failure Demonstrators—an extended protest occurs at a factory Catherine Leaves James—a young woman tells boyfriend she loves another James Leaves Catherine—a young man tells girl- friend he loves another Coworker Dispute—a person steals work and credit from a coworker Mark the Policeman—a policeman confronts two thieves Roger and His Son—a father disciplines five-year- old son Big and Small Nation—two nations are in conflict Mary Denies Richard—a woman refuses the sex— ual advances of male friend John in the Pub—a man is confronted by an ag- gressive drunk For each of three of these twelve conflicts (four different test booklets are used, each con- taining three problems), participants in the study generate an imaginative story about how the char- acters will respond to or attempt to solve the con- flict described. In every case, the problem can be solved by either nonviolent or violent means. For example, the previous problem (“Unfaithful William”) generates a wide variety of solutions, including the two examples given here. The first was written by a Swedish high school student; the second by an American high school student. SWEDISH EXAMPLE (Female Subject. 23095): Mary runs into the house and catches them red-handed. Mary is very unhappy. She yells at William and runs out of the h0use. William runs after her. Mary calms down. They decide to talk about it in peace and quiet. The other woman drives home. William and Mary take a seat on the sofa. William explains that he loves the other woman and wants a divorce. Mary says that she agrees. She will not live with a man who does not love her. AMERICAN EXAMPLE (Male Subject, 01128): Mary feels a sudden surge of anger deep from within her innermost self. Mary vows revenge. She slams the car into gear and races out to the hardware store where she purchases a 33-inch McCulloch chainsaw. When she arrives at the house most of the lights are out, so she creeps around back only to discover that William and his mistress are in back on the deck, dining with fine food over candlelight. Seeing this, Mary pulls the rip cord on her chainsaw, The chainsaw whines to life as Williamjumps up and screams, “What the fuck is going on?” Mary springs up on to the deck and buries the chainsaw deep into the other woman’s head. Her body convulses as blood, flesh, gray matter. and bone fragments fly everywhere. William screams with terror as Mary cuts the motor and pulls the chainsaw out of the shaking lump of flesh which used to be a human, William is cornered as Mary fires up the saw. “Don‘t Mary. 1 can explain, please wait, don‘t!” Mary“s eyes are glazed over and she seems possessed. She screams, “Rot in hell you stinking mother» fucker!” as she slams the roaring chainsaw into William’s mouth. By themselves, of course, two isolated stories tell us little. The important questions involve the possibility of general and systematic differences in large samples obtained from different societies. Stories written in response to the twelve problem- solving stimuli were obtained from secondary- level schools in several societies. Data were collected from eleven nations. These nations vary 82 PART FOUR PHYSICAL VIOLENCE with respect to the prevalence of violence——with some characterized by low rates of violent crime and others by high rates. Within each of the societies included in the study, efforts were made to identify secondary schools diverse in parental social class, academic ability, and probable educational future. Sec— ondary schools were chosen, rather than colleges and universities, because secondary schools are much more likely to be representative of all levels of class and ability. In most societies, tertiary edu— cation is highly stratified, drawing overwhelm— ingly from the highest financial and ability strata. In each case, a knowledgeable local scholar was asked to identify schools that were likely to draw from populations diverse in social class. In each national sample, approximately 600 to 750 stories were obtained from 200 to 250 individuals—that is, each individual wrote three stories. The general instructions were as follows: Sorero PROBLEMS. In each of the following sit- uations, a specific problem is described. After reading each description, make up a detailed story about how the characters in the story will try to solve this problem. In your story, describe what the characters do and what happens as a re- sult. PLEASE MAKE YOUR STORIES AS Damian AS POSSIBLE. A “Violence Code” was created using the method of content analysis to summarize the quantities of violence in the stories from each na- tional sample. Although the Violence Code per- mits the systematic enumeration of the quantities of violence in the stories, qualitative differences between the national samples are also extremely important, because these differences are often sub— tle and elude simple tabulation. The two methods, quantitative and qualitative, are complementary rather than redundant because they tap very dif- ferent facets of the data set.* *The methodology is too briefly presented here; a fully de— tailed description is available from Professor Dane Archer, De- partment of Sociology, University of California at Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA 95064. RESULTS: QUANTITATIVE DATA A comparison of eleven national data sets reveals large differences in quantities of violence con» tained in the stories. . . . The overall incidence of violence shows low values for the Korean (18.6 percent), Swedish (19.3 percent), and Mexican samples (19.9 percent); much higher values for the New Zealand (38.7 percent), Australian (37.7 per- cent) and American (29.8 percent) samples. . . . The eleven national samples can be ranked from high to low in the following order on the fre- quency of any form of violence in the stories: New Zealand, Australia, Northern Ireland, United States, Japan, England, Canada, France, Mexico, Sweden, and Korea. Gender Differences Stories written by men are more likely to contain violence than those written by women. This pat- tern is consistent (1) across all eleven societies and (2) across all twelve problem-solving situa- tions. . . . A higher proportion of male stories (35 percent overall) contained violence than female stories (22.5 percent) for all eleven national sam- ples. This indicates that male stories were 1.56 times more likely to contain violence than female stories. The differential for stories containing homi- cides was even greater; compared with women’s stories, men’s stories were 2.40 times more likely to contain a homicide. The differential for stories containing firearms was roughly 2.13. [In short,] men were more likely than women to write vio- lent stories. RESULTS: QUALITATIVE DATA The eleven national data sets vary dramatically not only in the frequency of violent acts— something quantification does a reasonable job of summarizing—but also in the nuances that make the eleven data sets so dissimilar. These nuances defy quantification, and they reflect some of the most important qualities that make 14 ARCHER AND MCDANIEL MEN AND VIOLENCE 83 the Swedish stories unlike the American stories, and that make both unlike the English stories, and so on. Many themes, patterns, and outcomes found frequently in the stories from one nation were infrequent or even unknown in the stories from another society. Quantification therefore leaves unanswered many subtle questions regard- ing cultural differences, and a close reading of the stories is required. With so many stories to choose from, it is possible here only to illustrate some of their di- versity and cultural uniqueness. The examples are all from the “Unfaithful William” and “Unfaithful Mary" conflicts. In American stories written in re- sponse to these two problems, reactions generally involve anger and rage. When violence takes place in these stories, it is frequently fatal, occurs rapidly in hot blood, and often involves firearms. There was a gender difference in the frequency of violence in American stories about “Unfaithful Mary” (36.8 percent of male stories contained vi- olence; 9.6 percent of female stories contained violence) and, to a lesser degree, about “Unfaithful William” (22.6 percent of male stories; 14.6 per- cent of female stories). The following six exam- ples come from the American sample; the first three were written by men and the next three by women. American Male, 01049: William waits for three hours. Then finally the man comes out of the house tucking his shirt. By this time, William is outraged, so he starts up his ear and drives casually over to- ward the man and parks right in the way of the man’s car. William steps out very casually and reaches under the seat and pulls out his service .45 and chambers a round. In the meantime the man steps out of the car and is walking toward William. William sees him coming toward him so he just points it toward the man and pulls the trigger. The shock of the slug to the man’s chest was so great it broke all his ribs and put a hole through him that you could stick a baseball through. American Male, 03102: First, William hit the dash- board as hard as he could and nearly broke his hand doing so. William starts to get an angry look on his face and all of a sudden, pulls out a .357 Magnum, the most powerful in the world... When William began the third knock. the man an— swered the door. William asked if Mary was there, the man said that he doesn’t know any Mary and so she wasn't there. William then blew off his head and took Mary home and romped on her. American Male, 12180: William is going to go kick some ass on this dude. First thing William does is wait 15 minutes so he can barge into the house and catch this man fucking the brains out of his wife. Then William fucks this dude up, beats his head in and gets a gun and shoots his ass. Then he goes and fucks Mary’s pussy all the rest of the day to make sure she won’t want any more dick for a while. American Female, 12085: William should talk to Mary about what’s going on. He should ask her what kind of problem is going on between them, and ask her if there is a problem (and) why she can’t tell him instead of sleeping around with other guys. Maybe they should see a marriage counselor. American Female, 03106: Al the door to the bed— room he stops and listens carefully. His blood is pounding so loudly through his ears that it is hard to hear. Taking a deep breath. he opens the door and stalks into the bedroom. Mary is undresSed in bed with a man William has never seen before. She jumps up and the blood rushes from her face. “What the hell is going on here?!” William shouts. Mary breaks down and starts crying as the stranger hurriedly gets dressed and runs out the door. . . . Mary rambles on and on, not seeing what Will is doing. then out of nowhere William pulls out a gun and says, “If I can’t have you nei— ther can he!” and with that he proceeds to shoot Mary in the head and, only seconds later, to shoot himself. American Female, [1012: Mary will probably sit there and think “I want to kill them both.” But ob- viously she won’t hurt him. The other woman would yell at him for not getting rid of Mary and the two women will end up fighting and, at the end, the other woman will probably just give up and say something to William like. “You’ll be sorry.” 84 PART FOUR PHYSICAL VIOLENCE The following stories are drawn from some of the other national samples. These examples vary in the quantities and qualities of Violence they contain. They also reflect some degree of cultural uniqueness, containing themes and solu— tions encountered rarely if at all in the American stories. Swedish Male, 23194: William, a bit sexually frus- trated himself, is extremely jealous. He finds how— ever that this jealousy provokes an erotic feeling. His loins tingled as he watched them kiss. His nor- mal uncreative mind starts to burn with new and exciting ideas. He decides to cut loose from his in- hibitions and join them. Once in the house, he can hear their laughter in the bathroom. He begins to unbutton his shirt as he approaches the door. As he turns the knob, he can hear the couple gasp. “It’s OK," he whispers, “I’ve come to join you.” The couple is noticeably apprehensive but, as he un- dresses, they begin to relax. Their innovative after- noon has begun. Swedish Female, 23127: William will go into the house and call for an explanation, (and) ask what the other man is doing in his house with his wife and so on. If it just was a temporary romance, they can be friends again. Or perhaps William will sue for a divorce. English Female, 28066: After a very hard mom- ing at work, she returns home. William by this time would have gone to work. Mary. in her hunt for evidence, finds an article of the woman’s clothing under the bed. Later when her husband returns she confronts him. They don’t argue about it but talk sensibly, deciding the best course of ac- tion calmly among the two of themselves. Agree, ing eventually that she, Mary, is willing to give him a second chance if he gives his word to forget that woman. English Male, 28015: William sat in his car trying to decide what to do. Should he burst in on them, should he kill them both, should he go to a lawyer or ignore what was happening? William drove up to his house, walked up to the door. He goes inside, Giggles can be heard upstairs. He goes up to the bedroom and Mary and her lover are lying on the bed, semi-naked. Both try to cover themselves up. Mary gets out of bed and tries to calm William down. William pushes her away over a chair. Her lover gets up to defend her and receives a fist in the face. William leaves the house and drives off at high speed to the nearest bar. Australian Female, 26018: Mary is stunned. Slowly she walks to her car and in a daze drives off. Images of the woman kissing her husband flash through her mind. Resolutely, she parks her car near a deserted beach and goes for a walk. She is in a turmoil. Should she confront her husband and demand an explanation or should she bide her time and hope that he tells her himself? Direct con- frontation is best, so slowly Mary gets back into her car and drives back home. She is just in time to see the lady leaving. . . . Guilt is written all over William‘s face as he sees Mary. “It was nothing,” he stutters desperately. Mary doesn’t say anything. She walks determinedly to their bedroom, pulls out her suitcase and starts packing her belOngings. For a moment her eyes fail upon their wedding picture, but she turns away. At the door, she turns one last time to take a look at what was her home and at the man she once loved. Then she turns and purpose- fully walks toward her car. Australian Male, 26109: There were noises com- ing from the bedroom so she moved down the pas- sage slowly and then she peered around the comer. Her friend was right. Then Mary quickly moved to the passage closet and pulled out a handgun. She then returned to the bedroom with the loaded gun, shooting her husband first and then his little play— mate. Then turning the gun on herself, after shoot- ing everybody. They had all died instantly. Korean Female, 25043: Mary investigates their re— lationship with suspicion. She tries to find out whether their relationship is unclean or just friend— ship, or has to do with business. If the relationship turns out to be serious (unclean), Mary will suffer deeply from agony and anguish. Since Mary loves William very much, she will leave him for his hap- piness. Mary’s life will be filled with joy thinking that William, the one whom she loves the most, is living a happy life by her sacrifice. Korean Male, 25149: When William gets home, he asks Mary with a smiling face, “Did you have fun 14 ARCHER AND MCDANIEL MEN AND VIOLENCE 85 while I was gone?” Mary looks surprised, “How did you know?” If I were William, I’d go to the man and hit him a few times, then give my wife (Mary) to the man. AN ATTEMPT AT THEORETICAL SYNTHESIS The large gender differences reported in this paper have implications for three different theoretical ex- planations that emphasize respectively, biological, social, and cultural factors. Each explanation can be examined in light of the new findings presented here. First, biology. Given the large and highly consistent gender differences obtained in these data, biological factors cannot in our view be discounted—males wrote more violent stories than women in every national sample and for almost every conflict. In our view, this cross- national finding is apparently consistent with the proposition that gender differences in violence are influenced by biological factors. In the data reported here, the maleness-violence link is both large and apparently universal. Second, social factors. In all the societies studied here males are consistently more violent than women, but the specific amount of gender difference in violence varies from one society to another. For example, the male-female difference in violence is greater in the United States than in Canada or Japan. Similarly, the amount of male vi- olence per se varies from one society to another. Such societal variations can be attributed to socialization, with some societies being more en- ergetic than others in socializing males toward ag- gression. Socialization does not operate in a social vacuum, though. It seems to work hand in glove with culture. Third, cultural factors. Gender differences aside, there are dramatic intersocietal differences. Samples from some societies show much higher levels of overall violence and aggression than those from other societies. This finding is consis— tent with the view that differences in violence are culturally constructed, and that this process varies in significant ways across societies. Standing alone, however, cultural factors appear unable to account for the gender differences found. Given the diversity of cultural practices and variation in child rearing in different societies, universal gen— der differences in violence and aggression are relatively unexpected. Again, however, the large aggregate differences across national samples are perfectly consistent with the notion that different cultures produce aggression and violence in dif— ferent quantities. CONCLUSION As noted earlier, there is evident overlap in the predictions implied by social and cultural theories; these perspectives could be referred to collectively as “social-cultural” explanations. Although in this study the surprisingly consistent pattern of gender differences (men being more violent than women in all societies) lends apparent credibility to bio- logical explanations, the large difi’erences across nations just as strongly support “social-cultural” explanations. The gender differentials are consistent with biological models. Because the pattern of thesc gender differences is largely the same within each of the national data sets, biology—or at least uni- versals that transcend national boundaries—may be implicated. However, the different levels of vi— olence between nations are difficult to explain without “social»eultural” models. The enormous differences between national data sets in the prevalence of violence in the stories cannot be explained by biological factors and, instead, require consideration of social and cultural vari- ables that vary across these societies. The pre- cise nature of these social and cultural variables remains unknown at this point, but the huge cross—national differences reported here appear to pr0vide a “smoking gun“ proving that these variables exist. The data reported here therefore provide support for the role of very different types of etio- logical explanations. Both “social-cultural" and “Mu . u.“- . use".me vruLnHLn biological explanations can claim support in these data because both differences (the variation in ag— gregate violence levels across samples) and simi- REFEREN CES Archer, Dane. and Rosemary Gartner. 1984. Violence and Crime in Cross-National Perspective. New Haven: Yale University Press. Bardwick. Judith. 1971. The Psychology of Women: A Study of Bio-Cultural Conflicts. New York: Harper and Row. Christiansen, Kerrin, and Rainer Knussman. 1987. “Air drogen Levels and Components of Aggressive Be- havior in Man." Hormones and Behavior 21:170— 180. Goldstcin, Jeffrey. 1986. Aggression and Crimes of Wo- lence. New York: Oxford University Press. Maccoby, Eleanor, and Carol Jacklin. 1974. The Psy- chology ofSex Dtfierences. Stanford: Stanford Uni— versity Press. Rada, Richard, D. Laws, and Robert Kellner. 1976. “Plasma Testosterone Levels in the Rapist." Psy- chosomatic Medicine 38:257—268. REVIEW QUESTIONS larities (the almost universally higher levels of male violence) are found in this cross—cultural comparison. Rohner, Ronald P. 1976. “Sex Differences in Aggres- sion: Phylogenetic and Enculturation Perspecr tives.” Ethos 4:57—72. Sears, Robert, Eleanor Maccoby, and Harry Levin. 1957. Patterns of Child Rearing. Stanford: Stan- ford University Press, 1957. Segall, Marshall. 1983. “Aggression in Global Perspec- tive,” in Aggression in Global Perspective, edited by Arnold P. Goldstein and Marshall Segall. New York: Pergamon Press. Tieger, Todd. 1980. “On the Biological Bases of Sex Differences in Aggression." Child Development 51:943—963. 1. What are two major conclusions reached in this article? 2. Given the conclusions reached in this article, what theoretical explorations do the authors offer to explain the gender differences observed? ...
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SOCI_108_ARCHER_8 - 14 MEN AND VIOLENCE: IS THE PATTERN...

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