Is there a difference in the way men and women perceive and react to emotions?

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Credit: Ronneb

Social cognition includes the ability to represent other people’s intentions and beliefs, and the ability to share and recognise the emotions of others. Here, the main aim was to assess the possible presence of sex differences across four aspects of social cognition: (1) recognition of dynamic facial expressions; (2) representation of other people’s mental states (both affective and cognitive Theory of Mind, ToM); (3) empathy; (4) identification and regulation of one’s own emotions. Measures assessing social cognition were administrated to two hundred ten participants equally divided between men and women.

Results showed no significant sex differences in affective and cognitive ToM, in the recognition of emotional facial expressions (with the exception of anger: women were more accurate than men), and in the ability to identify and regulate one’s own emotions. A different result was found for empathy, with women reporting higher scores than men. No significant differences between women during follicular vs. luteal phase of menstrual cycle for all the social cognition measures were found. These results are discussed in light of the existing literature. To our knowledge, this study represents one of the few attempts to analyse in a single work sex differences across multiple areas of social cognition.

Related article:  Viewpoint: Neuroscientists cannot afford to ignore differences between male, female brains

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