Sex Roles

, Volume 55, Issue 11–12, pp 775–785 | Cite as

Sadness, Anger, and Frustration: Gendered Patterns in Early Adolescents’ and Their Parents’ Emotion Talk

  • Naomi J. Aldrich
  • Harriet R. TenenbaumEmail author
Original Article


The present study was designed to investigate gender patterns in early adolescents’ and their parents’ verbal expression of three gender-stereotyped emotions: anger, sadness, and frustration. Parents and their early adolescent children discussed four interpersonal dilemmas and answered questions regarding those dilemmas in mother–child and father–child dyads. Consistent with previous literature regarding gender stereotypes in emotion expression, daughters used a higher frequency of emotion words than sons did during conversations with their mothers and fathers. Additional analyses regarding the three specific emotions under investigation, however, revealed findings that were inconsistent with conventional gender stereotypes. Contrary to expectations, in conversations with fathers, sons used a higher proportion of references to sadness than did daughters. Daughters used a higher proportion of references to frustration than did sons in their conversations with both mothers and fathers. Mothers and fathers used a higher proportion of references to frustration with daughters than with sons. No gender differences were found in parents’ or children’s references to anger. The results call into question culturally accepted gender stereotypes about sadness, anger, and frustration.


Emotions Parent–child conversations Gender 



This project was conducted as part of the first author’s master’s thesis. The data collection was supported by a University of California Office of the President Dissertation Fellowship and a grant from the Sigma Delta Epsilon Graduate Women in Science Association to the second author. The authors would like to thank the following research assistants for their help in data collection and transcription: Mark Burns, Annie Brown, Emily Hubbard, Mi Kim, Catherine Liguori, Lubianka López, Veronica López, Riquelen Manlucu, Neena Mann, Reena Panchal, Maya Stevenson, Lilian Valencia, Sharon Wie, and Elisabeth Wooldridge. The second author extends her appreciation to Campbell Leaper and Kristin Anderson for helpful discussions. The authors would also like to thank the editor and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments. Finally, special thanks go to the families and children who participated in this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Brooklyn CollegeBrooklynUSA
  2. 2.The CUNY Graduate CenterNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Psychology FieldKingston UniversityKingston-upon-ThamesUK

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