. . . “Indirect aggression”—otherwise known as gossiping, backstabbing and shunning—is a technique women have perfected through the ages, and have employed as an effective competition strategy, claims Tracy Vaillancourt, a professor of psychology at the University of Ottawa, in a report published in the Canadian journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B last month.
“Females prefer to use indirect aggression over direct aggression (i.e. verbal and physical aggression) because this … maximizes the harm inflicted on the victim while minimizing the personal danger involved,” according to the report. “The risk to the perpetrator is lower because he/she often remains anonymous.”
The findings of the study—that women use relationships to navigate life and get ahead—is nothing new, said Dr. Jennifer A. Powell-Lunder, an adjunct professor of psychology at Pace University.
“Whenever studies like this come out, we tend to make generalizations, and yes, women use relationships to get ahead,” said Powell-Lunder, a co-author of the book, “Teenage As a Second Language: A Parent’s Guide to Becoming Bilingual. “The survival of the fittest for men is based on physical prowess. Even in the businesses world, men who show they are fierce and strong with their voice and body language are revered. For women, it’s more about learning to negotiate systems through relationships to get where they need to go. And unfortunately, that has its negatives.”
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