Contrary to widely held gender stereotypes, women are not more emotional than men, say researchers of a new study into emotional differences in gender.
Feelings such as enthusiasm, nervousness or strength are often interpreted differently between the two genders. It’s what being ’emotional’ means to men versus women that is part of a new University of Michigan study that dispels these biases.
For example, a man whose emotions fluctuate in a sporting event is described as “passionate” while a woman whose emotions change in any event, even if provoked, is considered “irrational,” said senior author Adriene Beltz, assistant professor of psychology.
Prof Beltz and colleagues followed 142 men and women over 75 days to learn more about their daily emotions, both positive and negative. The women were divided into four groups: one naturally cycling and three others who used different forms of oral contraceptives.
The researchers detected fluctuations in emotions three different ways, and then compared the sexes. Little to no differences were seen between the men and the various groups of women, suggesting that men’s emotions fluctuate to the same extent as women’s, although likely for different reasons.
“We also didn’t find meaningful differences between the groups of women, making clear that emotional highs and lows are due to many influences – not only hormones,” Prof Beltz said.
These findings could have implications for research, which has historically excluded women partly because ovarian hormone fluctuations result in variation, especially in emotion, which cannot be experimentally controlled, the researchers said.
“Our study uniquely provides psychological data to show that the justifications for excluding women in the first place (because fluctuating ovarian hormones, and consequently emotions, confounded experiments) were misguided,” Prof Beltz said.
Source: University of Michigan