Gender Differences in Emotional Experience and Expression

by Lillian Pao (’18)

Fig. 1: Gender stereotypes claim that women are more emotional and expressive than men.

There are many differences between men and women, some of which concern their emotional experiences. Professor Yaling Deng, from the Beijing Normal University in Beijing, China, decided to investigate the emotional experience and expression difference between males and females. His study tested 31 men and 48 women on eight emotion types: sadness, anger, horror, disgust, neutrality, surprise, amusement, and pleasure.

To effectively induce and measure emotion from the men and women, the research team used a subjective Self-Assessment Manikin test and a physiological heart rate response test.  The participants watched video clips that induced one or more of the eight emotions. The researchers found that there was no correlation between the subjective scores and physiological responses in men or women.  Therefore, the study did not support the stereotype that women are more emotional than men. Rather, their results support the idea that women often report more intense feelings. There is a difference between a female’s and male’s emotional experience and expression.

There are some possible explanations for the gender differences between emotional experience and expression. It may be attributed to human survival from the ideas of evolution and adaptation. In the past, males often lived in their own tribes, whereas women had to travel, marry into other tribes, and take care of the children. Women had to rely on the support of the tribe more than the men, so their children could grow up in a healthy and nurturing environment. Another plausible reason could be gender stereotypes; societal expectations of men and women may influence them to behave a certain way. A last explanation could be that the participants inadvertently regulated their emotions while watching the videos. For future research, scientists can expand their testing techniques by using more indicators, such as skin responses and respiratory rates.




  1. Deng, et al., Gender differences in emotional response: inconsistency between experience and expressivity. Plos One (2016). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0158666.
  2. Image acquired from

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