Gender Differences in Emotional Regulation

This chapter examines the relationship between gender and emotional regulation.

Key Points

  • There are gender differences and tendencies to use specific emotional regulation strategies between males and females.
  • Women generally use more types of emotional regulation strategies than men.
  • For emotional regulation strategies, women tend to use rumination and men tend to use alcohol to cope (Nolen- Hoeksema, 2011). Link to the Study

Some Theory...

Differences in using specific emotional regulation strategies

  • In the study conducted by Zlomke and Hahn (2009), 1080 young adults completed an Internet administered questionnaire. Data analysis found that emotion regulation strategies played an important role in the symptoms of anxiety for both men and women, while specific strategies differed between genders.
  • Women were more likely to use rumination when distressed, while men tended to blame others during stressful situations. Link to the Study
  • The only emotional regulation strategy that men have consistently used more than women was drinking to cope (Tamres et al, 2002). A research conducted with 275 undergraduate students (164 women, 104 men) suggested that men rely more on alcohol to cope compared to women (Park & Levenson, 2002). Link to the Study
  • Women used more types of emotional regulation strategies compared to men. The meta-analysis by Tamres et al. (2002) found that women reported getting involved in more types of emotional regulation, 11 out of 17 strategies were examined.
    • Women were more likely to use verbal expressions to others than to the self, such as rumination, seeking social support and having positive self-talk.
    • These gender differences were consistent while other gender differences in emotional regulation strategies depended on the context. Link to the Study
  • Men tend to engage unconsciously in emotional regulation. In a study, both male and female participants were required to use the emotional regulation strategy (reappraisal) to down-regulate their emotional responses to negatively valence photos.
  • It was found that men showed greater decreases in amygdala activity and less control in the prefrontal activity during regulation. It was assumed that men are able to use cognitive regulation with less effort than women (McRae, 2008). Link to the Study

Conclusion

  • While research suggests that there are gender differences in emotional regulation, the similarities between men and women in emotional regulation are greater than the differences (Tamres et al, 2002). Further research must explore what causes gender differences in emotional regulation and how it can be better applied to daily life.

Practical Suggestions

  • Consider gender differences into consideration when helping students to develop emotional regulation.
  • Allow female and male students to share their emotional regulation strategies with one another.
  • Provide information about emotional regulation strategies and encourage students to try different emotional regulation strategies.

Review