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Are Women More Emotional Than Men? Latest 2022

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Are Women More Emotional Than Men?

Women’s negative emotionality as experienced around the world.

Are women more emotional than men? Maybe. Men can also be described as more emotional than women. It depends on the type of emotion, how it is measured, how it is expressed, and many other factors. When answering these kinds of questions, don’t dichotomize gender differences into being “completely non-existent” (i.e., gender-blankism) or so large that males and females “cannot relate to each other” (i.e., old Mars clapping with Venus). Most psychological gender differences fall somewhere in the middle (Peterson and Hyde, 2010).

From an evolutionary perspective, there may be some gender differences in emotion. In fact, the chances of men and women evolving the exact same emotional psychology are essentially zero. It is a Darwinian miracle to evolve the exact same emotional design for both men and women.

The forces of selection acting on humans must remove all prior emotional gender differences in our lineage as mammals and primates, positively selecting for any and all gender-specific emotional adaptations that have developed over our hundreds of thousands of years as hunter-gatherers, and in the post-Pleistocene era, the emotional psychology of men and women remained completely neutral (Buss & Schmitt, 2011).

If one expects absolutely no gender differences in human emotions, then one must believe that a god/goddess-like creature, androgynous, has actively intervened throughout human history to ensure that males and females reproduce emotional psychology in exactly the same way (while mystical gender differences in physical characteristics such as strength and size, persistent patterns of hunting and gathering and parenting, the timing of puberty and menopause, as well as reproductive differences and sex differences in young male syndrome). As Vandermassen (2011) points out, “For example, human males and females should have evolved to be the same psychologically, which is theoretically impossible and, in fact, turns out to be untrue” (p. 733).

Nonetheless, any specific scientific claim that men and women differ emotionally requires empirical evaluation. Even though gender differences have a neural basis (gender role socialization may alter the brains of boys and girls), finding large and consistent gender differences in emotion does not mean that differences have evolved. Addressing the question “has it evolved?” requires more evidence (see Schmitt & Pilcher, 2004).

So, are there some significant gender differences in mood, and how large are these differences (using the d statistic, where small differences are ±0.20, moderate differences are ±0.50, and large differences are ±0.80 and above)? Perhaps the strongest evidence for gender differences in emotion resides in the domain of negative emotions (Brody & Hall, 2008; McLean & Anderson, 2009).

For example, in a meta-analysis of gender differences in “moral” emotional feelings (Else-Quest et al., 2012), women tended to experience more negative emotions such as more guilt (d = -0.27), more shame (d = -0.27) = -0.29) and less embarrassment (d = -0.08).

Similar results were found in a recent meta-analysis of children’s emotions (Chaplin & Aldao, 2013). In a cross-cultural study of 37 countries, women tended to report more negative emotions (Fischer et al., 2004). In countries with relatively high sociopolitical gender equality, gender differences were reflected in the intensity of feelings of sadness (d = -0.26), fear (d = -0.26), shame (d = -0.12) and guilt (d = -0.12) above; Fischer & Manstead, 2000).

Gender differences in social anxiety across cultures were found to be generally higher in women than in men (18 countries; Caballo et al., 2014), as were studies of test anxiety among high school students (12 countries; Bodas and Ollendick, 2005). However, gender differences in most negative emotions were relatively small. There is no Mars and Venus here.

 

Gender differences in actual everyday experiences of negative emotions are often found in studies using empirical sampling or measures other than self-reports (eg, observer reports or clinical assessments) (Diener et al., 1983; Fujita et al. , 1991; Seidlitz & Diener, 1998), but not always (Barrett et al., 1998).

Gender differences in stress responses to negative everyday life events were also found (Matud, 2004), with women more likely to use coping strategies related to negative emotions, such as cognitive rumination and seeking emotional support (Tamres et al., 2002).

Observational data on women’s written and verbal behavior tend to find that women express more negative emotions than men (eg, Burke et al., 1976; Levenson et al., 1994). However, it is important to note which situations tend to trigger negative emotions in relationships.

Women tend to report more negative emotions when their partners reject them, and men tend to report more negative emotions when their partners demand more intimacy (Brody et al., 2002).

Women do appear to respond more negatively to unpleasant experiences in experimental settings (Bradley et al., 2001; Chentsova-Dutton & Tsai, 2007; Grossman & Wood, 1993).

For example, in a study of gender differences in responses to pleasant and unpleasant slideshows (Gomez, Gunten, & Danuser, 2013), researchers found that women responded more negatively to unpleasant slideshows (eg, dismembered body, body violence, suffering or death), gender differences persisted from age 20 to 81.

Gong et al. (2018) found that these gender differences were present in both young and old in China and Germany. Kring and Gordon (1998) found that women responded more sadly to sad movies than men (d = -0.78), and women responded more than men to scary disgusting movies (d = -0.40). In contrast, men responded more to happy movies (d = +0.31).

Women also had a greater duration of response to negative (but not positive) slides than men (Gard & Kring, 2007). Finally, male and female responses to some negative slideshows appear to differ in their brain activation (Stevens & Hamann, 2012), and males and females also use different regions to modulate responses to unpleasant experimental stimuli (Domes et al., 2010; McRae et al., 2008).

In addition to being more responsive to negative emotion-evoked experiences, women tend to be better than men at identifying and processing negative emotions in others (Babchuck et al., 1985; Hampson et al., 2006; McClure, 2000).

There are several evolutionary hypotheses about why this is the case. For example, women may be more sensitive to all emotions in others because they need (more than men) to be with their children, or women may be especially sensitive to negative emotions just because they need to respond to health threats, not health threats. Men will. Hampson and her colleagues (2006) found more support for the former hypothesis.

Most studies show that women tend to score higher on the personality trait most strongly associated with negative emotions—neuroticism (Feingold, 1994; Schmitt et al., 2008). For example, in a meta-analysis of 25 studies, Feingold (1994) found that women scored higher on anxiety (d = -0.27).

Sex differences in neuroticism appeared to be particularly strong, overcoming several response biases associated with other self-reported sex differences. Vianello et al. (2013), for example, gender differences in neuroticism were found using measures of explicit self-report and implicit tests (same for agreeableness; see here).

As Shchebetenko (2017) concludes, “When men and women differ in one characteristic, neuroticism may represent a special case beyond their interpretation and opinion of that characteristic” (p. 155).Gender differences in actual everyday experiences of negative emotions are often found in studies using empirical sampling or measures other than self-reports (eg, observer reports or clinical assessments) (Diener et al., 1983; Fujita et al. , 1991; Seidlitz & Diener, 1998), but not always (Barrett et al., 1998).

Gender differences in stress responses to negative everyday life events were also found (Matud, 2004), with women more likely to use coping strategies related to negative emotions, such as cognitive rumination and seeking emotional support (Tamres et al., 2002). Observational data on women’s written and verbal behavior tend to find that women express more negative emotions than men (eg, Burke et al., 1976; Levenson et al., 1994).

However, it is important to note which situations tend to trigger negative emotions in relationships. Women tend to report more negative emotions when their partners reject them, and men tend to report more negative emotions when their partners demand more intimacy (Brody et al., 2002).

Women do appear to respond more negatively to unpleasant experiences in experimental settings (Bradley et al., 2001; Chentsova-Dutton & Tsai, 2007; Grossman & Wood, 1993).

For example, in a study of gender differences in responses to pleasant and unpleasant slideshows (Gomez, Gunten, & Danuser, 2013), researchers found that women responded more negatively to unpleasant slideshows (eg, dismembered body, body violence, suffering or death), gender differences persisted from age 20 to 81. Gong et al. (2018) found that these gender differences were present in both young and old in China and Germany.

Kring and Gordon (1998) found that women responded more sadly to sad movies than men (d = -0.78), and women responded more than men to scary disgusting movies (d = -0.40). In contrast, men responded more to happy movies (d = +0.31). Women also had a greater duration of response to negative (but not positive) slides than men (Gard & Kring, 2007).

Finally, male and female responses to some negative slideshows appear to differ in their brain activation (Stevens & Hamann, 2012), and males and females also use different regions to modulate responses to unpleasant experimental stimuli (Domes et al., 2010; McRae et al., 2008).

In addition to being more responsive to negative emotion-evoked experiences, women tend to be better than men at identifying and processing negative emotions in others (Babchuck et al., 1985; Hampson et al., 2006; McClure, 2000).

There are several evolutionary hypotheses about why this is the case. For example, women may be more sensitive to all emotions in others because they need (more than men) to be with their children, or women may be especially sensitive to negative emotions just because they need to respond to health threats, not health threats. Men will. Hampson and her colleagues (2006) found more support for the former hypothesis.

Most studies show that women tend to score higher on the personality trait most strongly associated with negative emotions—neuroticism (Feingold, 1994; Schmitt et al., 2008).

For example, in a meta-analysis of 25 studies, Feingold (1994) found that women scored higher on anxiety (d = -0.27). Sex differences in neuroticism appeared to be particularly strong, overcoming several response biases associated with other self-reported sex differences.

Vianello et al. (2013), for example, gender differences in neuroticism were found using measures of explicit self-report and implicit tests (same for agreeableness; see here). As Shchebetenko (2017) concludes, “When men and women differ in one characteristic, neuroticism may represent a special case beyond their interpretation and opinion of that characteristic” (p. 155).

 

Several large cross-cultural studies have confirmed these gender differences in dozens of countries (Costa et al., 2001; Lippa, 2010; Lynn & Martin, 1997; Schmitt et al., 2008).

De Bolle (2015) found that sex differences in adolescent neuroticism are common across all cultures at about the same age (around 14 years, implying that pubertal hormones are a direct cause; see also Hyde et al., 2008, for other biological/hormonal origins) Gender Differences in Negative Emotions; and, Kring & Gordon, 1998; Victor et al. 2017). In studies of 26 countries (d = -0.26; Costa et al., 2001), 53 countries (d = -0.41; Lippa, 2010), women had higher overall neuroticism scores in large cross-cultural samples of adults high. and 56 countries (d = -0.40; Schmitt et al., 2008).

Interestingly, all of these cross-cultural studies have found greater gender differences in neuroticism in cultures with greater sociopolitical gender equality. That’s right, the gender differences in neuroticism are greater in more gender egalitarian countries than if the gender differences come only from gender roles, gender socialization, and patriarchy (see the table below comparing neuroticism scores from Northern Europe and women in Africa); Mitt, 2015).

Similar results have been found in depression studies. The average level of depression tends to differ between men and women (Hyde et al., 2008), and this gender difference is evident in most cultures (Hopcroft & McLaughlin, 2012; Van de Velde, Bracke, & Levecque, 2010).

The gender gap in depression is larger in societies with high gender equality than in societies with low gender equality. Hopecroft speculates that this is partly due to the different effects of children on depression among women in high and low equity countries.

For women in countries with high gender equality, children promote depression, while the opposite is true for unemployed women in countries with low gender equality. There was little difference in the effects of children on male depression in countries with high and low gender equality.

This could explain a paradoxical finding that while gender equality boosts mental health on average, it creates a larger gender gap in depression.

Similar results were found in research on personal values, including values ​​related to altruism and love. In a study of 127 samples from 70 countries (N = 77,528; Schwartz & Rubel-Lifschitz, 2009), women consistently valued benevolence and universalist values ​​more than men.

National measures of gender egalitarianism predict gender differences in benevolent and universalist values, but again in unexpected directions. The more equality between men and women in a country in terms of society, health and employment…the greater the gender gap (higher for women) in values ​​of benevolence and universalism.

That is, in countries with higher gender equality (eg Finland, Sweden), women value benevolence and universalist values ​​more than men. In more patriarchal cultures, the gender differences between benevolence and universalism are much smaller.

The authors of the values ​​study speculate that the increased independence and equality of women in the workforce may encourage women to express their “inherent” values, rather than adapting their values ​​to those of their husbands. Maybe.

Clearly, it is extremely strange to find the largest gender differences in Scandinavian cultures and the smallest in patriarchal cultures, if one assumes that gender differences are caused by gender role socialization. However, we have also found this in studies that test cognitive abilities and even physical characteristics (see chart; Schmidt, 2015).

In conclusion, I would say that if one’s goal is to accurately describe how men and women psychologically differ in a particular domain, then it is best to use multivariate statistics within that particular domain to assess the degree of disparity.

For example, Del Guidice et al. (2012) examined gender differences in personality using Cattell’s 16-factor model of personality traits and found an overall multivariate D of 2.71 in the personality domain. This is a huge difference, with less than 10% of the personalities of men and women overlapping.

Emotion-related traits are only a small part of the gender differences, though. My guess is that from a multivariate perspective in the affective domain, researchers would find that the difference in effect between men and women is more modest in size. Same planet, different community.

 

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