Men and Women Process Emotions Differently

Women Process emotions differently

Green: The brain area becoming more active in women.
Credit: MCN, University of Basel

New research finds, unsurprisingly, that men and women process emotions differently. Women rate emotional images as more stimulating compared to men. The increased emotion also makes it more likely women will remember an image.

It’s often said that women are from Venus and men from Mars to illustrate differences between sexes. Though physical differences are apparent there are also differences in how women use and are affected by emotion compared to men. These gender differences are the topic of new research from Universität Basel.

Men and Women Process emotions differently

The results will be published in the latest issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

It’s known that women consider emotional events more emotionally stimulating than men tend to do. Earlier studies on the subject have also demonstrated that emotional events are more easy to remember. Just think back on any even of your life, the things you remember tend to be events linked to strong emotion. So is the reason women outperform men in memory test differences in the way we process emotion?

To test this researchers conducted a study consisting of 3,398 test subjects. Researchers tested the ability to remember an emotionally stimulating images. Researchers discovered that women rated emotional images, especially negative ones, as more stimulating than men. This gender difference wasn’t present when looking at neutral imagery, images lacking emotional content. In a follow-up memory test women could recall many more emotional images than men. Women had a particular advantage remembering positive images.

“This would suggest that gender-dependent differences in emotional processing and memory are due to different mechanisms,” says study leader Dr Annette Milnik.

Using a fMRI researchers investigated differences in brain activity when men and women looked at emotional images. They found that womens’ stronger reaction to negative images was due to an increased activity in motoric regions of the brain.

“This result would support the common belief that women are more emotionally expressive than men,” explained Dr Klara Spalek, lead author of the study.

That men and women Process emotions differently might not be a complete surprise. But that differences in how women process emotion actually improves recall and memory is an interesting find. In a practical sense, this research might help create specialized treatments for neuropsychiatric diseases since symptoms differ between sufferers depending on their gender.