Different Cultures and Emotions

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2004, Vol. 4, No. 1, 87–94

Copyright 2004 by the American Psychological Association, Inc. 1528-3542/04/$12.00 DOI: 10.1037/1528-3542.4.1.87


Gender and Culture Differences in Emotion
Agneta H. Fischer,
Patricia M. Rodriguez Mosquera, and
Annelies E. M. van Vianen

Antony S. R. Manstead
University of Cambridge

University of Amsterdam
In this article, the authors report a secondary analysis on a cross-cultural dataset on gender differences in 6 emotions, collected in 37 countries all over the world. The aim was to test the universality of the gender-specific pattern found in studies with Western respondents, namely that men report more powerful emotions (e.g., anger), whereas women report more powerless emotions (e.g., sadness, fear). The authors expected the strength of these gender differences to depend on women’s status and roles in their respective countries, as operationalized by the Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM; United Nations Development Programme Human Development Report 2002). Overall, the gender-specific pattern of women reporting to experience and express more powerless emotions and men more powerful emotions was replicated, and only some interactions with the GEM were found.

Do men and women live different emotional lives,
and do they experience and express their emotions in
different ways, or with different frequency or intensity? To date, many studies on gender differences in emotion have been conducted to answer this question,
and several reviews of this research have been undertaken (e.g., Brody & Hall, 1993; Fischer, 1993, 2000; Manstead, 1992; Shields, 1991, 2000). The authors of
these reviews generally have concluded that there are
many inconsistencies in the findings resulting from
methodological problems (e.g., Feldman Barrett,

1997; LaFrance & Banaji, 1992; Robinson, Johnson,
& Shields, 1998; Shields, 2000); yet, a genderspecific pattern in emotional responding can be found. Women generally report more sadness, fear, shame,
and guilt, whereas men report experiencing and expressing more anger and other hostile emotions, although this latter finding shows less consistent evidence. This gender-specific pattern is more evident with respect to reports on emotion expressions (e.g.,

LaFrance & Banaji, 1992).
How have these gender differences been explained?
Gender differences in emotion have generally been
accounted for in terms of the social and cultural context, especially as a result of gender-stereotypic socialization (cf. Brody & Hall, 1993; Jansz, 2000; Shields, 2002). Emotions can be considered part of

the socialization into roles that men and women commonly occupy (cf. Alexander & Wood, 2000; Brody & Hall, 1993; Eagly, 1987; Eagly & Wood, 1991;
Grossman & Wood, 1993). Traditionally, in Western
industrial societies women are more likely than men
to have domestic and nurturing roles, in which taking
emotional care of others is their main task. Men,
however, are more likely than women to provide the
material resources and assume a role in the paid
economy. Moreover, these roles suggest differences
in power and status, with female roles providing less

Agneta H. Fischer, Patricia M. Rodriguez Mosquera, and
Annelies E. M. van Vianen, Department of Psychology,
University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands;
Antony S. R. Manstead, Department of Psychology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, England. Antony S. R. Manstead is now at the School of Psychology, Cardiff University, Wales, England. We thank Jildau Vlieger for coding the situation descriptions. We also are very much indebted to Alice Eagly, who inspired our thinking about the relation between emotions

and social roles.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Agneta H. Fischer, Department of Psychology, University of Amsterdam, Roetersstraat 15, 1018 WB Amsterdam, the Netherlands. E-mail: a.h.fischer@uva.nl




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