Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 27, Issue 3, pp 349–364 | Cite as

Gender Differences in the Relationship between Emotional Regulation and Depressive Symptoms

  • Julian F. ThayerEmail author
  • Lynn A. Rossy
  • Elisabeth Ruiz-Padial
  • Bjorn Helge Johnsen


Reports of gender differences in depressive symptoms are one of the most pervasive findings in the literature. In addition, women are frequently reported to be more emotionally sensitive than men. However, the paradox of women being more emotionally responsive and yet at greater risk for psychopathology is still to be unraveled. In the present study we examined emotional regulation as a possible factor in the gender difference in depressive symptom reporting. In a sample of young adults we replicated the frequently reported finding of greater depressive symptom reporting in women. In addition, we found women to report greater attention to emotions. This is consistent with the idea that women tend to think more and ruminate more about their emotions. However, when the variance associated with this greater attention to emotions was statistically controlled, the gender difference in depressive symptoms was no longer significant. Subsequent analyses found that women with low depressive symptoms reported greater attention to emotions without evidencing greater depressive symptoms. However, women with high depressive symptoms exhibited greater attention to emotions, more impaired antirumination emotional repair strategies, and greater reports of depressive symptoms than men with high depressive symptoms. We close by speculating about the neural concomitants of these findings.

depression emotional regulation gender rumination 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julian F. Thayer
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lynn A. Rossy
    • 2
  • Elisabeth Ruiz-Padial
    • 3
  • Bjorn Helge Johnsen
    • 4
  1. 1.National Institute on AgingBaltimore
  2. 2.University of Missouri-ColumbiaColumbia
  3. 3.University of JaenJaenSpain
  4. 4.University of BergenBergenNorway

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