, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 29-53

Communication of specific emotions: Gender differences in sending accuracy and communication measures

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Men and women were videotaped while they silently viewed emotionally toned slides (view period) and then described their feelings (talk period). They then rated their feelings on scales of pleasantness, strength, and 10 specific emotions. Videotapes of the two sending periods separately were shown to receivers who tried to identify the type of slide that the sender was viewing or describing (categorization measure) and rated the senders' expressions on the same scales (emotion correlation measure). Results indicated that communication accuracy, and gender differences in sending, varied with sending period, type of slide, communication measure, and specific emotion. On the categorization measure, women were generally better senders. On the emotion correlation measures, women were better senders of pleasantness, disgust, distress, fear, and anger while men were slightly better senders of guilt. Accuracy was generally better in the view period than in the talk period, and the view period produced more pronounced gender differences. It is argued that categorization and correlation measures are sensitive to different aspects of emotion communication. Used in conjunction with modifications of the slide viewing paradigm, the two types of measure provide versatile means of investigating social aspects of emotional expression.

The sending phase of this study was conducted while the first author was visiting the University of Connecticut, Storrs. The receiving phase was conducted by the third author at the University of Manchester, England. The authors wish to thank Rachel Calam for her help in the conduct of the sending phase.