Gender differences in emotional risk for self- and other-directed violence among externalizing adults

Naomi Sadeh, Shabnam Javdani, M. Sima Finy, Edelyn Verona

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Women and men generally differ in how frequently they engage in other- and self-directed physical violence and may show distinct emotional risk factors for engagement in these high-impact behaviors. To inform this area, we investigated gender differences in the relationship of emotional tendencies (i.e., anger, hostility, and anhedonic depression) that may represent risk for other-directed violence (i.e., physical fighting, attacking others unprovoked) and self-directed violence (i.e., self-injury, suicide attempts). Method: The ethnically diverse sample consisted of 372 adults (252 men and 120 women age 18-55) with a history of criminal convictions. Facets of emotional risk assessed with the Aggression Questionnaire (Buss & Warren, 2000) and Mood and Anxiety Symptom Questionnaire (Watson et al., 1995) were entered simultaneously as explanatory variables in regression analyses to investigate their unique contributions to other- and self-directed physical violence in men and women. Results: Analyses revealed that anhedonic depressive tendencies negatively predicted other-directed violence and positively predicted self-directed violence in men and women, consistent with a model of depression in which aggression is turned inward (Henriksson et al., 1993). Gender differences, however, emerged for the differential contributions of anger and hostility to other- and self-directed violence. Trait anger (i.e., difficulty controlling one's temper) was associated with other-directed violence selectively in men, whereas trait hostility (i.e., suspiciousness and alienation) was associated with self- and other-directed violence among women. Conclusions: The divergent findings for trait anger and hostility underscore the need to examine gender-specific risk factors for physical violence to avoid excluding potentially useful clinical features of these mental health outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)106-117
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of consulting and clinical psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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