Stereotypes of emotion in men and women

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Chapter 11 endnote 16, from How Emotions are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain by Lisa Feldman Barrett.
Some context is:

The prevailing belief in many cultures is that women are more emotional and empathic, whereas men are more stoic and analytical.[1]

Women describe themselves as more emotional than men describe themselves. We see this when men and women complete measures that ask people general questions ("how do you typically feel") or questions that require memory ("how have you felt over the past two weeks?"). However, these sex differences rarely, if ever, emerge when people report their experiences in the moment (using experience sampling), when behaviors are measured without perceivers (such as facial electromyography), or when neural activity is measured. There do seem to be clear differences from person to person, and also when people are measured at different points in time or in different contexts, but the “women are more emotional than men” generality is a stereotype.

Still, this stereotype is persistent and emerges relatively early in life. Happiness, embarrassment, surprise, sadness, fear, shame, and guilt are believed to occur more in women, and anger, contempt, and pride more in men.[1][2] People impose this stereotype inconsistently on infants but then consistently apply it to young toddlers, and then it grows steadily stronger with age.[3] Even young children use gender stereotypes to categorize facial actions in babies. Tell children that the photo of a crying infant is a boy and they are more likely to perceive anger; tell them it is a girl, they are more likely to see sadness.[4]

These stereotypes have implications in real life. Women who express anger are seen as gender atypical and are punished: they lose status and are paid a lower salary,[5] whereas angry men are given power and status.[6] For some examples from the 2016 U.S. presidential election, see:


Notes on the Notes

  1. Hess, Ursula, Sacha Senécal, Gilles Kirouac, Pedro Herrera, Pierre Philippot, and Robert E. Kleck. 2000. "Emotional expressivity in men and women: Stereotypes and self-perceptions." Cognition & Emotion 14 (5): 609-642.
  2. Plant, E. Ashby, Janet Shibley Hyde, Dacher Keltner, and Patricia G. Devine. 2000. "The gender stereotyping of emotions." Psychology of Women Quarterly 24 (1): 81-92.
  3. Chaplin, Tara M., and Amelia Aldao. 2013. "Gender differences in emotion expression in children: A meta-analytic review." Psychological Bulletin 139 (4): 735-765.
  4. Haugh, Susan Sterkel, Charles D. Hoffman, and Gloria Cowan. 1980. "The eye of the very young beholder: Sex typing of infants by young children." Child Development 51: 598-600.
  5. Brescoll, Victoria L., and Eric Luis Uhlmann. 2008. "Can an angry woman get ahead? Status conferral, gender, and expression of emotion in the workplace." Psychological Science 19 (3): 268-275.
  6. Tiedens, Larissa Z. 2001. "Anger and advancement versus sadness and subjugation: the effect of negative emotion expressions on social status conferral." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 80 (1): 86-94.