Vying for a man brings out worst in women: study
Bachelor Andy Baldwin, a doctor and Navy lieutenant, meets with a cluster of marriage-minded women competing to be his bride on ABC's 'The Bachelor'. (ABC / Adam larkey)
Published Tuesday, November 22, 2011 4:44PM EST
TORONTO - A study suggests the catty behaviour seen on the popular reality TV show "The Bachelor" is pretty close to the truth.
A University of Ottawa professor says her study -- published in the journal Aggressive Behavior -- confirms that most women use aggression against sexual rivals.
Tracy Vaillancourt's research took a look at how females compete with one another for the attention of males.
Her study suggests "The Bachelor" provides insight into the tactics women use to compete and shows how vying for the affections of an eligible man can bring out the worst in women.
Such tactics can include gossiping about a rival's level of promiscuity or disparaging her appearance, so as to reduce her "mate value."
Vaillancourt's study suggests that this type of behaviour is not only a TV phenomenon, but also a reality in schools and workplaces.
Researchers conducted two experiments to examine the phenomenon.
In the first, women were paired with a friend or stranger and randomly placed in one of two situations. One involved an attractive female peer who was dressed in a sexy outfit and the other was the same peer, dressed conservatively.
In both situations, participants were secretly videotaped to capture their reactions. Meanwhile, other women were asked to rate each participant's reaction in terms of aggression.
"We asked women who knew nothing about the context or reason for the person's reaction to rate how 'bitchy' (or not) they thought she was being," Vaillancourt said.
Results showed that almost all women were aggressive toward the attractive female who was dressed in a sexually provocative manner.
The study said the women in this situation were more likely to roll their eyes at their peer, stare her up and down and show anger while she was in the room.
When she left the room, many of them laughed at her, ridiculed her appearance or suggested she was sexually available.
However, when the same woman was dressed conservatively, the group barely noticed her and she wasn't discussed after leaving the room, the study said.
The second experiment confirmed that the sexy colleague was indeed seen as a sexual rival by the other women, the study said.
Results indicated the women did not want to introduce her to their boyfriends, allow him to spend time alone with her or be friends with her.