Men and women may be equal in their share of emotions — they just may not be showing the same ones.
Women, despite having been stereotyped as having emotional outbursts, cannot actually be classified as more emotional. A new study in PLOS One reveals that the emotional spectrum across genders varies, with certain expressions found more frequently in women.
For example, in a past study published in the Psychological Bulletin, it has been found that women do smile more than men. This recent study confirmed that, finding that women not only smile more often than men, but also were found to express fear or sadness using an “inner brow raise.”
Men, on the other hand, frowned far more often than women. Researchers found that frowning among the male participants more accurately reflected feelings of concentration or confusion.
These findings were discovered using a facial recognition device that captured the expression of emotion in the participants. Over 2,000 people took part, coming from countries including France, the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany and China. They were shown 10 different video advertisements designed to compel the participants to express an emotional response.
Facial expressions and inner emotions are closely tied together, so these new findings now raise the questions of why women might feel happy or anxious more often than men, and why men are more likely to have feelings of anger or confusion. Some cite this as a result of societal expectations and upbringing, but it is still unclear what the direct cause of this may be, if there is one.
In an Australian study that examined emotional expression between genders on social media, the authors stated that “the gender stereotypes to which Australians are exposed from early childhood and the socially acceptable ways in which genders can act will still be dominant, and that women will still be the more emotionally expressive gender.”
They confirmed this hypothesis through data collected in status updates and comments posted on social media, evaluating punctuation, emoticons, laughter and additional letters.
It remains unclear as to whether or not women truly do express more emotions, or rather, they may just handle their emotions differently. Either way, there is more research that can be done, although new methods of gathering data have yet to be discovered, as emotional response can go far deeper than facial expression.
The data did not vary too much between participants from different countries, although there were slight differences in the amounts of smiling and frowning among women. For example, women from the United States smiled more than any others, and women from the United Kingdom frowned the least.