Sex and Psychology - Emotion

Emotion

When measured with an affect intensity measure, women reported greater intensity of both positive and negative affect than men. Women also reported a more intense and more frequent experience of affect, joy, and love but also experienced more embarrassment, guilt, shame, sadness, anger, fear, and distress. Experiencing pride was more frequent and intense for men than for women. In imagined frightening situations, such as being home alone and witnessing a stranger walking towards your house, women reported greater fear. Women also reported more fear in situations that involved "a male's hostile and aggressive behavior" (281) In anger-eliciting situations, women communicated more intense feelings of anger than men. Women also reported more intense feelings of anger in relation to terrifying situations, especially situations involving a male protagonist. Emotional contagion refers to the phenomenon of a person’s emotions becoming similar to those of surrounding people. Women have been reported to be more responsive to this.

Women are stereotypically more emotional and men are stereotypically angrier. When lacking substantial emotion information they can base judgments on, people tend to rely more on gender stereotypes. Results from a study conducted by Robinson and colleagues implied that gender stereotypes are more influential when judging others' emotions in a hypothetical situation.

There are documented differences in socialization that could contribute to sex differences in emotion and to differences in patterns of brain activity. An American Psychological Association article states that, "boys are generally expected to suppress emotions and to express anger through violence, rather than constructively". A child development researcher at Harvard University argues that boys are taught to shut down their feelings, such as empathy, sympathy and other key components of what is deemed to be pro-social behavior. According to this view, differences in emotionality between the sexes are theoretically only socially-constructed, rather than biological.

Context also determines a man or woman's emotional behavior. Context-based emotion norms, such as feeling rules or display rules, "prescribe emotional experience and expressions in specific situations like a wedding or a funeral," independent of the person's gender. In situations like a wedding or a funeral, the activated emotion norms apply to and constrain every person in the situation. Gender differences are more pronounced when situational demands are very small or non-existent as well as in ambiguous situations. During these situations, gender norms "are the default option that prescribes emotional behavior." (290-1)

Scientists in the field distinguish between emotionality and the expression of emotion: Associate Professor of Psychology Ann Kring said, "It is incorrect to make a blanket statement that women are more emotional than men, it is correct to say that women show their emotions more than men." In two studies by Kring, women were found to be more facially expressive than men when it came to both positive and negative emotions. These researchers concluded that men and women experience the same amount of emotion, but that women are more likely to express their emotions.

Women are known to have anatomically differently shaped tear glands than men as well as having more of the hormone prolactin, which is present in tear glands, as adults. While girls and boys cry at roughly the same amount at age 12, by age 18, women generally cry four times more than men, which could be explained by higher levels of prolactin.

In a study where researchers wanted to concentrate on nonverbal expressions by just looking at the eyebrows, lips, and the eyes, participants read certain cue cards that were either negative or positive and recorded the responses. In the results of this experiment it is shown that feminine emotions happen more frequently and have a higher intensity in women than men. In relation to the masculine emotions, such as anger, the results are flipped and the women’s frequency and intensity is lower than the men’s. Studies that measure facial expression by the use of electromyography recordings show that women are more adequately able to manipulate their facial expressions than men. Men, however can inhibit their expressions better than females when cued to do so. In the observer ratings women’s facial expressions are easier to read as opposed to men’s except for the expression of anger.

Larry Cahill argues that neurobiological differences between men and women exist in brain lateralization and emotional processing. Fine criticizes his conclusions as failing to account for size differences and failing to consider the possibility of environenmental influences on brain activity, and in some cases relying on research about rats instead of humans.

Women show a significantly greater activity in the left amygdala when encoding and remembering emotionally arousing pictures (such as mutilated bodies.) Men and women tend to use different neural pathways to encode stimuli into memory. While highly emotional pictures were remembered best by all participants in one study, as compared to emotionally neutral images, women remembered the pictures better than men. This study also found greater activation of the right amygdala in men and the left amygdala in women. On average, women use more of the left cerebral hemisphere when shown emotionally arousing images, while men use more of their right hemisphere. Women also show more consistency between individuals for the areas of the brain activated by emotionally disturbing images. One study of 12 men and 12 women found that more areas in the brains of women were highly activated by emotional imagery, though the differences may have been due to the upbringing of the test participants. When women are asked to think about past events that made them angry, they show activity in the septum in the limbic system; this activity is absent in males. In contrast, men's brains show more activity in the limbic system when asked to identify happy or sad male and female faces. Men and women also differ in their ability to recognize sad female faces: in one study, men recognized 70%, while women recognized 90%. Responses to pain also reveal sex differences. In women, the limbic system, which is involved in the processing of emotions, shows greater activity in response to pain. In men, cognitive areas of the brain, which are involved in analytical processing, show higher activity in response to pain. This indicates a connection between pain-responsive brain regions and emotional regions in women.

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Famous quotes containing the word emotion:

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