Sunday, March 8, 2009

Enmity in males at four developmental levels: cognitive bases for disliking peers

It has come to be an accepted fact in psychology that rejected or "unpopular" individuals often exibit certain anti social tendencies, such as elevated levels of aggression and assertiveness in respect to their peers. The study reffered to in the article "Enmity in males at four developmental levels: cognitive bases for disliking peers" attempts to determine whether or not age is a factor in the reasons males have for disliking other males.
Four groups of males: preschoolers, primary school children, preadolescents and yond adults, were asked questions about two people, their best friend and the person of the same sex that they dislike the most. They were asked aboout both someone they like and someone they dislike so that they would not place undue emphasis of the person they dislike. They were asked why they disliked their nonfriend so much and why they liked their best friend so muc so that there could be a sort of comparison.

The results were not all that surprising. For the 3 younger groups, over aggressiveness was the number one cause of enmity towards other males. For young adults, however, the number one factor in disliking a peer was aberrant behavior, which is the number two reason in the primary schoolers and preadolescents and the third reason in preschoolers. Although these factors were common throughout, each group also had reasons for disliking peers that were specific mainly to themselves. Rule violation and lack of play were factors for preschoolers, non-help was a factor for primary schoolers, negative evaluation was a factor for pre adolescents, and lack of genuineness, a more abstract reaason, was one for young adults.

I found the study somewhat interesting in that it brings to light reasons we like or dislike people. I found it pretty obvious that aggressive behavior is an undesireable trait in a friend, but never thought about the more abstract reasons such as lack of genuineness or loyalty. The results fit in well with the theories of development that say that more complex thought comes with age. We can see that the reasons the younger boys had for disliking their peers were much more concrete and obvious than the reasons the young adults had. Aggressive behavior seems like a gift in some situations, and a curse in others.

Hayes, Donald S, Elaine S. Gershman and William Halteman. "Enmity in males at four developmental levels: cognitive bases for disliking peers." Journal of Genetic Psychology. v157. n2 (June 1996): p153(8).


  1. I would think that aggressiveness is a beneficial trait in certain circumstances and is perceived positively. When do you think that could be?