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Relational aggression

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Relational aggression is a term used to describe psychological (social/emotional) aggression between people in relationships. Relational aggression is a form of aggression where the group is used as a weapon to assault others and others' relationships. It uses lies, secrets, betrayals and a host of other two-faced tactics to destroy or damage the relationships and social standing of others in the group. Also known (now in 2006) as covert bullying, social aggression, female bullying, or family bullying it is a cruel, cunning, and covert form of aggression. It is much less well known than well-known forms of physical aggression and therefore much more difficult to detect.

It is often associated with girls and female cliques in schools. Grown women and men also commit relational aggression in spousal, familial, sexual, social, community, political, and religious settings. Since most research on relational aggression has been conducted by women on girls it is often called the 'female' form of aggression when, in fact, it is committed by both sexes.

Boys and men often prefer overt physical aggression and rely less on covert psychological aggression. Girls and women often prefer psychological aggression and rely less on physical aggression. This is probably due to the differing patterns of sexual socialization and the expectation that "girls and women are supposed to be nice". It is also probably due to differences in associated abilities between the sexes. Last, it is probably due to the sexual socialization that "real men are supposed to be tough".

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