Assertiveness is defined as the ability to: “express one’s feelings, ask for what one wants, and say ‘no’ to what one doesn’t want.” (Santrock, 2003, p. 626). It simply means to respectfully express one’s opinions with confidence and poise. The aim of assertive communication is to get what you want, while also trying to ensure that others get what they want. (Hartstone, 2007).
Using assertive communication can reduce conflict and ensure a desired outcome is had. Assertiveness is sometimes confused with aggression, with adopting a certain position and stubbornly arguing without a compromise believed to be assertive, rather than calmly coming to a conclusion helping everyone.
One example of past research on gender and assertiveness is Spencer Rathus’ Rathus Assertiveness Scale (RAS). The RAS was developed in 1973 as a measure of one’s assertiveness. It was also used as an: “instrument for measuring behavioural change in assertion training.” (RAS, 1973). The scale was developed as current measures of assertiveness at the time were considered invalid and outdated. It was based on self-report methods such as journal entries by college students, Wolpe and Lazarus’ situations (1966), and the Allport (1928).
The scale contains 30 questions in total, with items scored on a Likert scale from “very characteristic of me” to “very uncharacteristic.”
A total score is obtained by adding numerical responses for each item and calculating a final score, based on each answer’s worth. This collects subjective quantitative data. The corresponding results showed that from 1400 participants who undertook the test from 35 campuses across America, males had an average of 3.85% more score in each positive category, then females (RAS, 1978).
The reliability of this investigation was moderate to high, scoring an r=.78 on the Pearson product of correlation. Furthermore, it was very easy to access and simple to calculate one’s own RAS score, with it being online. However, some items are presented in ways that are outdated or heterosexist, as it was developed more than 25 years ago (Thompson and Berenbaum, 2011).
The investigation consisted of adolescents collected from an Essington Stage 2 Psychology course. They all received a consent from, clearly labelling the research intentions and how the investigation will be conducted. All participants who voluntarily agreed to participate were given a participant ID on a personal details sheet, and a behaviour questionnaire to complete. From this raw data, both the mean and median were calculated, and the mean was decided as the most accurate measure of central tendency. The data collected will aid future researchers further understand assertiveness levels in adolescents, and if one gender is naturally more assertive. This knowledge will help with psychological interventions including Assertiveness Training and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Improving these interventions will assist in understanding assertiveness further and developing methods to increase it. Subjective quantitative data was collected from this observation and put into a bar graph.