For much of human history, it was "common knowledge" that women were much more emotional than men. This belief still appears to be widely held.

  1. Does either gender experience emotions either more frequently or stronger?
  2. If there is a difference, does biology play a significant role in causing this difference?

3 Answers 3


First, there is no simple Yes/No as investigating and judging emotionality is different game in different aspects of emotion. So one cant draw a overall picture of current scientific knowledge and sum it up to a simple more as there are too many apples and oranges to compare.

what Wikipedia says on gender and emotion:

Studies of psychological gender differences are controversial and subject to error. Many small-scale studies report differences that are not repeated in larger studies. Self-report questionnaires are subject to bias, particularly if the subjects are told that the questionnaire is testing for gender roles. It is also possible that commentators may exaggerate or downplay differences for ideological reasons

From this follows:

  • You have to distinguish into social & non-social emotions, look emotion classification, noteworthy there doenst exist a common classification system
  • "more" is inexact here, and to be answerable should be specified as something measurable, e.g.:

    • emotional strength/sensitivity (e.g. pain, gender dependent pain-treshold, stronger perception of pain with same stimulus)
    • divergent emotions in the sense of the above classification systems (does a male orgasm feel like a female one? This is known as a qualia-problem)

In general, this sex and emotion Wiki-article shows some gender differences. Male hormone Testosterone for example seems to reduce pain sensitivity, and female estrogen raises it

If you want a more exact answer, you have to make a more specific claim, e.g. gender dependence of pain perception or empathy ability are, in my opinion, more precise, answerable questions. Other aspects of emotion are extremely hard to define and objectively measure.

  • I made a couple of small edits to help readability, the most important of which was putting the bolded "more" into quotation marks. I was thoroughly confused by it originally. I hope you don't mind.
    – John Lyon
    Jun 20, 2011 at 6:44

"More" is a difficult thing to prove. Different, yes.

we found left-lateralized activations in the extended amygdala in females and right-sided lateralization in the hippocampus in men, indicating that emotion-memory circuits in the limbic system may be activated differently for men and women



  • Your second paper says very clearly healthy women experience more emotion than healthy men. It's measured in several ways.
    – Razie Mah
    Jun 2, 2014 at 17:18
  • Both links are dead and weren't archived by the Wayback Machine. The first was apparently Functional Neuroimaging Studies of Human Emotions, CNS Spectrums 9(4):258-66. It's a survey of "over 55" PET/fMRI studies, which does no data analysis of its own. I have no idea why they say "we" found anything; it just obscures which study(s) these results came from, which is unclear. I couldn't determine what the other paper was, with nothing but a URL to go on.
    – benrg
    Jun 22, 2023 at 20:05

The only evidence I've found on a difference is that emotional speech tends to activate the inferior frontal cortex more in women than in men. From a study done at The Max Planck Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience:

We investigated the brain regions that mediate the processing of emotional speech in men and women by presenting positive and negative words that were spoken with happy or angry prosody. Hence, emotional prosody and word valence were either congruous or incongruous. We assumed that an fRMI contrast between congruous and incongruous presentations would reveal the structures that mediate the interaction of emotional prosody and word valence. The left inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) was more strongly activated in incongruous as compared to congruous trials. This difference in IFG activity was significantly larger in women than in men. Moreover, the congruence effect was significant in women whereas it only appeared as a tendency in men. As the left IFG has been repeatedly implicated in semantic processing, these findings are taken as evidence that semantic processing in women is more susceptible to influences from emotional prosody than is semantic processing in men. Moreover, the present data suggest that the left IFG mediates increased semantic processing demands imposed by an incongruence between emotional prosody and word valence.

If semantic processing is indicative of overall "experiencing of emotions" then this would seem to offer evidence that women do experience "more emotion" than men. Or it could simply mean that women can use language to mediate their emotions better than men.

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