The word “bullying” is often associated with women in a male-dominated environment.
But the term is also used to describe people who act in ways that threaten the safety of others, whether it’s bullying or physical abuse.
And in many cases, the behaviors they commit are rooted in gender bias, according to research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
In a recent article in the journal, researchers conducted a meta-analysis of peer-reviewed literature that examined the prevalence of bullying behavior and found that “bullied women are more likely than nonbullied [women] to engage in behaviors that perpetuate gender stereotypes.”
In the article, published on Psychology Today, researchers wrote that the more bullying, the more entrenched those gender stereotypes are, and “the more they continue to perpetuate them.”
In other words, it can be harder for people to recognize and address bullying behaviors, even when they’re not directed at women.
To help, we asked a panel of experts to explore the psychology of bullying, to hear what they had to say.
The results of the study were surprising.
A woman’s gender role, the panelists said, is a key predictor of her ability to tolerate bullying.
A study published last year by University of Toronto researchers showed that when a woman is in a position of power and authority, she may feel more comfortable with her appearance, as well as being more likely to be bullied.
However, women who experience higher levels of bullying are more at risk for mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder.
To get a better understanding of how bullying can be a form of power, the researchers conducted two meta-analyses, in which they looked at the prevalence and correlates of various types of bullying.
They found that women who reported having been bullied at least once a week were significantly more likely (20.6%) to have been bullied in the previous 12 months, compared with women who experienced only one or fewer incidents of bullying per year.
This was particularly true for men, with more than a quarter of male respondents reporting having been harassed in the past year.
“This study found that when bullying occurs against women, it often has negative consequences for their mental health,” said Dr. Julie Zukerman, an associate professor of psychology at the University of New Brunswick, who was not involved in the study.
“That may be because they have been exposed to more harassment and the experiences they have had, rather than the bullying itself.”
This can be especially problematic for women, who often face a heightened risk of harassment and violence, according.
In the report, Zukman and colleagues found that people with more negative psychological experiences are less likely to feel safe in their everyday lives and are more vulnerable to bullying.
For example, women with a history of physical and sexual abuse were also more likely when they were bullied to have difficulty identifying their gender identity and self-worth.
“The fact that a woman has been harassed at least three times in her life is really quite alarming,” said Zuker, who is also the director of the Centre for Women and Gender in Society at the Centre of Excellence in Psychology in Ottawa.
“What we need to be aware of is that even if a woman who’s a victim of a physical or sexual assault does not report it, they can still be victimized and their self-esteem can suffer.”
While women may be more likely be bullied in general, the study found a significant correlation between bullying and a woman’s likelihood of experiencing mental health problems, including depression, self-harming and substance abuse.
“Bullying is more than just physical abuse,” Zukimers research said.
“Women experience the most pervasive forms of gender bias and they experience it differently.”
“Women are not just the victims of physical violence, but they also experience psychological abuse and are often in a vulnerable position when it comes to feeling safe and supported.”
Women who experienced harassment were also twice as likely to have a mental health problem, including anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts, compared to those who did not experience bullying.
“If you’re an adult who has experienced harassment, and you know you’re a woman, you’re more likely have a problem,” Zakerman said.
What’s more, women’s experience of bullying can have lasting consequences.
The study found women who were physically abused as children, for example, are more than twice as at risk of developing mental health conditions later in life.
“In this day and age, a lot of these women are still grappling with these issues,” Zauerman said, adding that many of the women in the studies cited had previously been victims of sexual violence, sexual assault and sexual harassment.
“These are still prevalent experiences.”
In addition, “women who experience bullying often have to cope with the impact of that experience, whether that’s having to deal with the shame of it, dealing with the stigma of it,” Zunimers said.
This is particularly true,