Sex differences in response to physical and nonphysical instigators

Harry A. Lando, Elaine Johnson-Payne, Lucia A. Gilbert, Connie J. Deutsch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


One hundred and twenty subjects competed in a reaction-time task similar to that of Taylor (1967). Subjects were randomly assigned to a white noise, fine, or control condition. In the fine and noise conditions programmed "opponents" administered increasing provocation to subjects over a series of 24 trials. Control subjects were not provoked. As predicted, males retaliated with higher levels of noise than did females, while there were no sex differences in the fine condition. Contrary to prediction, sex of opponent had no effect. Subjects in all conditions tended to view the task as competitive but to devalue their opponent only in the noise condition. The prevalent assumption of female passivity in the face of instigation was rejected. Instead a dichotomy was proposed that while females are less likely than males to reciprocate to physical provocation, they are just as likely to respond to provocation of a nonphysical nature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)523-535
Number of pages13
JournalSex Roles
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1977


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