It may be time for Tina Fey to write the Mean Girls sequel: Mean Boys. Instead of Regina George and Cady Heron clawing mercilessly at one another, boys would be the ones gossiping and excluding others from their clique.
But don't boys usually confront one another if they have an issue? They would never partake in these, well, girlier forms of aggression. The truth is, according to a new study in the journal Aggressive Behavior, this is a misguided stereotype; the "mean girl" behaviors may be just as common in boys.
For the study, a team of researchers at the University of Georgia surveyed a group of 620 students between 6th and 12th grade annually for seven years to see how commonly they were both victims of and victimized by "relational aggression" (what we commonly think of as "mean girl" behavior). This includes conduct such as "spreading negative rumors, damaging a peer's reputation or social relationships, threatening to terminate friendships, and excluding someone from a social group," according to the researchers.
They found that boys were not only guilty of this type of behavior but a little bit more likely than girls to exhibit it. And boys were much more likely to be generally mean to others than girls were. Girls, on the other hand, more commonly reported having been the target of the meanness.
But, as the researchers point out, the study does have some limitations: The sample was only drawn from adolescents in a small region of the Southeastern U.S. rather than a broader sample that could represent the entire country.
Regardless, it's always important to question the stereotypes that are so ingrained in our minds. Pop culture has us believe that girls are the only ones snickering and sneering at others, but that doesn't mean it's necessarily true. This study could give a whole new meaning to "boys will be boys."
(h/t New York Magazine)