Science Claims That Men Are as Emotional as Women

It's time to break one more gender stereotype and state that men can be as emotional as women. The problem lies in society, which penalizes them for expressing their feelings and showing vulnerability.
Science Claims That Men Are as Emotional as Women
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 21 December, 2022

Sensitive, empathic, vulnerable, and even sentimental. In fact, men are just as emotional as women; however, for a long time, it was assumed that emotionality was exclusively female territory. Indeed, emotions and their expressiveness were, until recently, an unequivocal symbol of weakness, and even of ‘hysteria’.

Gender stereotypes have always been traditional motivators of discrimination, paving the way for certain ideas that are often later difficult to refute. For instance, we’ve been assuming for centuries that masculinity is synonymous with strength, restraint, resolution, and courage. On the other hand, femininity has been associated with fragility derived from a skin-deep emotionality. It’s been something that’s invalidated women and suggested their instability.

Fortunately, nowadays, science is on our side and provides us with evidence of how outdated and erroneous these approaches are. A study published in the journal Nature provides some interesting data on the subject. Let’s take a look.

Men can suffer far more than women in emotional breakups.

image symbolizing that men are as emotional as women
We must normalize that men can express their emotions openly without being singled out as weak.

Beyond hormones: men are just as emotional as women

This idea was addressed in the study we mentioned above, conducted by the University of Michigan and Purdue University in the United States. Researchers tracked and analyzed the emotions of 142 men and 142 women over 75 days. They were given online questionnaires to monitor, privately, how they felt throughout each day.

This daily monitoring in which each person recorded their mood made it easier to obtain data on the emotional stability and fluctuations of both genders. The results were extremely revealing.

What happens to female hormones and emotions?

This was the first factor of interest. For the investigation, the researchers selected a group of women and divided them according to whether or not they used oral contraceptives. They observed that ovarian hormones don’t significantly influence the range of oscillations that can occur in their moods.

They also found that premenstrual syndrome or menstruation didn’t systematically lead to an increase in emotional variability. As a rule, there was a certain emotionality that was under control. This fact is more important than it might seem at first glance as, throughout the 20th century, women have often been excluded from research processes for reasons which, in the light of this study are unfounded.

Their exclusion was based on the idea that fluctuations in hormones made them unpredictable. Male experimental models were preferred as they were considered safer and more biologically reliable. Now, this could change.

Science has found no biological basis for emotional stereotypes.

Men are just as emotional as women (sometimes even more so)

To date, no biological basis has been found to support the myth that the female gender is more sensitive and emotional than the male. In fact, according to the study published in the journal Nature, and led by Dr. Adriene Beltz, men are just as emotional as women. There are no significant differences.

Moreover, research conducted by the University of Lancaster claims that, on average, men handle breakups far worse than women, and even express greater feelings of anguish and sadness. This deeper emotionality often translates into a worse handling of their emotional states and a greater risk of suffering from anxiety and depression, etc.

In general, men have been educated in the need to repress their feelings. This means they possess worse resources to regulate negative valence emotions.

Patriarchal societies and emotional repression in men

Boys don’t cry. This message has long been a mental echo for many men. Especially those generations before the millennials. They were told that tears and emotion belong to the ‘weaker sex’ who were allowed to express what they feel, without being called soft or even hysterical.

Indeed, the prejudices associated with gender, so rooted in patriarchal society, have traditionally vetoed the masculine gender in many ways. One of them, the most classic, is in the impossibility of expressing what they feel. Acts like crying, being vulnerable, and showing passion or sensitivity are exercises that have always required them to exercise restraint.

The kind of socialization aimed at repressing emotions, translates, in many cases, into a null literacy on this matter. However, it’s obvious that men experience sadness, happiness, anguish, hope, and joy in the same way as women. Nevertheless, they’re obliged to be restrained, to hide what hurts, and to contain what they feel. In effect, to leave inside what should be expressed outside.

image symbolizing that men are as emotional as women
Emotions, both men’s and women’s, fluctuate from day to day. It’s an important part of being human.

Let’s normalize the expression of emotions beyond gender

Emotional stability is no more a trait of men than fluctuations are in the emotions of women. We’re all emotional beings with occasional ups and downs. We all process reality through an emotional filter and react to stimuli through this channel. Some are simply better at it than others.

Neither gender is more emotional than the other. The problem lies in repression, dysfunctional education, and gender stereotypes that continue to completely shape us. It’s high time that many of these outdated ideas were dismantled so we can all acquire a better competence in emotionality. Because those who are skilled in the art of emotions are skilled in life.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.