Story at a glance
- Research from the University of Michigan and Purdue University found that the emotional fluctuations of men and women are “more similar than they are different.”
- Some say the study could help normalize emotion in all genders.
- Other research has found that men tend to experience more emotional pain during a breakup or relationship problems.
Men are just as emotional as women, new research shows, helping to dismantle long-held gender stereotypes.
Published last week in the scientific journal Nature, findings from a joint University of Michigan and Purdue University study of 142 men and women found that the emotional fluctuations of both genders are “clearly, consistently and unmistakably more similar than they are different,” the study’s lead author, Adriene Beltz of the University of Michigan, told NBC News.
“Our research does not directly speak to the origins or persistence of gender stereotypes, but we do hope that our findings will help to dismantle them,” she added.
Researchers tracked participants’ daily positive and negative emotions for 75 days by way of a 20-minute online survey that assessed their feelings at the end of each day.
Both women with “natural menstrual cycles” and women using three different types of oral contraceptives were included in the study to address the belief that women are more emotionally variable because of fluctuating hormone levels across their cycles. No meaningful differences among the women in different groups and men were found.
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That makes it clear that “emotional highs and lows are due to many influences — not only hormones,” Beltz said in a University of Michigan press release shortly after the study’s publication. The study also found that men’s and women’s emotions tend to fluctuate for different reasons.
Experts say the findings represent an important step in normalizing emotion in all genders.
While women aren’t born more emotional than men, “males are socialized to hide their emotions while it is far more legitimate for females to share them.” Robert Blum, a professor of public health and pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University, told NBC.
A recent Unicef study found that adolescent boys were more likely to be told they should not cry, express themselves, or show emotion.
Additional research from Lancaster University, published last month in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, found that men tend to experience even more emotional pain than women when experiencing relationship problems.
“We wanted to understand not only what relationship problems are most commonly experienced by the general public, but who experiences which problems more,” Charlotte Entwistle, the lead author of the study, said in a press release.
“Notably, the fact that the heartache theme was more commonly discussed by men emphasizes how men are at least as emotionally affected by relationship problems as women.”
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