How often have we seen a wife talk down to her husband? Hit her husband for a silly comment? Have we come to believe nothing of it?
As cataloged here, my marital experiences mirror the results of the study. Sybil is allowed to get angry over any, little thing. Although she is not passive - aggressive, she has to really work to control her anger. Truly, she feels that she is justified in her behavior. Her reaction to me is my fault, I am able to control her emotions (apparently).
One of the comments posted on Dr. Helen's blog might shed some incite:
Well in a futile attempt at getting back to the question at hand, my experience has been that women behave passive-aggressively by demonstrating disapproval. For all our bluster, boys and men seek the approval of women. It begins sometime in middle school. I would venture that few men had girls falling at their feet but rather were consigned to trying to gain some girl's attention from amongst the multitudes of admires. This awareness of women's approval or disapproval becomes a primal force. Many women I've experienced understand this and use it as a weapon. It is usually worse when the man is not meeting some unspoken expectation of the woman. Not keeping her in the manner she feels she should or not having the job she feels is more socially appropriate. I know several men who found themselves divorced these very "failures." Not all women are like this mind you, a fortunate situation for us men. The longterm effect of this is that many men just stop seeking the company of women. At least, company not financially contracted. This generally leads to a vicious circle as women become "unhappy" at not getting the attention they desire from men at least on their terms. I experience this often in ballroom dancing, it seems many women can't suppress their displeasure at men who are learning and thus unable to produce the dance experience they desire. For some reason, they just can't comprehend that this attitude causes men to stop taking lessons and thus their are fewer men for them to dance with. I believe it stems from the habit learned in their teenage years that men exist to please them and by being petulant they get their way. They seem to not understand men adapt to this strategy by avoidance.