The women did things such as look the woman up and down and roll their eyes when she entered. Once she left the room, they would make fun of her, laugh or make comments about her sexual availability, the study says. In general, women who were with friends were more prone to criticize the provocatively dressed woman.
In the second study, researchers asked subjects to rank pictures of a woman on the basis of her "attractiveness" and "sexiness" on a scale of 1 to 10, as well as their likelihood — from 1 to 10 — of allowing her to meet or spend time alone with their boyfriend. They provided photos of the conservatively dressed woman from the first study, and the same woman dressed provocatively. In a third photo, the provocative woman's image was changed so she appeared to be heavy.
The women were twice as likely to say they would not introduce the thin, sexy woman or be OK if they spent time alone with their boyfriend than the modestly dressed thin woman and were also less likely to have the provocatively dressed heavier woman meet or spend time alone with their boyfriend.
These findings point out that guys are not alone in using aggression to retain their social status, Nelson said. The difference is that, at least in younger years, guys tend to rely on physical force while girls and women "tend to focus in on the relational or indirect aggression to get their needs met," he said.
This clears the way for earlier intervention into the negative behavior of young girls, he said.
"Once you see it that way, through that lens, then you could say: 'Wow. We really need to start doing interventions with girls just as much as we do with boys when it comes to aggressive behavior.'"
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