Are women truly “more emotional” than men? Sex differences in an indirect model-based measure of emotional feelings

Ella Givon, Rotem Berkovich, Elad Oz-Cohen, Kim Rubinstein, Ella Singer-Landau, Gal Udelsman-Danieli, Nachshon Meiran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Common beliefs regard women as being more emotional than men. However, assessing differences in emotional feelings holds methodological challenges because of being based on explicit reports. Such research often lacks an explicit measurement model, and reports are potentially biased by stereotypical knowledge and because of existing sex differences in the ease of emotion-label retrieval. This pre-registered analysis employed an evidence accumulation model that has previously been validated for describing binary (un)pleasantness reports made in response to normed emotion-eliciting pictures. This measurement model links overt binary (un)pleasantness reports with the latent variables processing efficiency and a bias to report a certain emotional feeling. Employing online rather than retrospective reports that do not involve intensity rating, together with an explicit measurement model overcome the aforementioned methodological challenges. Across nine different experiments (N = 355) women generated negative emotions more efficiently than men. There was no sex difference in the bias to report negative emotions and in positive emotions. Post hoc account of the results emphasizes the greater relevance of negative emotions for women, given their evolutionary role as primary caregivers who should show enhanced sensitivity for dangers to their offspring (“fitness threat”), given their heightened likelihood of being themselves exposed to physical violence and given their traditional social roles that still remain relevant in many societies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32469-32482
Number of pages14
JournalCurrent Psychology
Volume42
Issue number36
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2023

Keywords

  • Emotional experience
  • Evidence-accumulation modeling
  • Reaction-time
  • Sex-differences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology

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