Male vs female range of emotions and feelings

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Male vs female range of emotions and feelings

Postby Splendid » Tue Nov 03, 2009 7:15 am UTC

I'm curious if anyone else feels the same way I do, or if I'm an idiot, or what the deal is.

It seems to me like my girlfriend (and most other female friends) have a very large range of emotions available to her. I don't think I literally 'feel' that much or that deep. I'm largely apathetic anyhow, but can this be normal? For example, she really, really, really loves me. I love her a lot too, but it really seems like the range of her emotions run so much deeper. It's like my girlfriend's emotions can be placed on a large grid, anywhere on that grid, often times many places at once (much to my dismay). Mostly I feel like things are either good or bad or okay, much to her dismay. Occasionally something really bad will happen to and I get thrown for a loop, but most of the time, this is how I feel it is:

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Does any of this make sense?

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Re: Male vs female range of emotions and feelings

Postby somebody already took it » Tue Nov 03, 2009 9:44 am UTC

In response to the original post. Perhaps you are more apathetic than the average person, or perhaps you just perceive yourself as being more apathetic. What makes you want to generalize your perceived emotional peculiarities to being a male vs. female difference? Also perhaps you should try thinking about what specifically it is that you think is different about your emotions. Deepness isn't a very helpful concept for understanding the way you feel, especially when it comes to communicating it others. Neither are unlabeled charts. On the other hand, descriptions of behavior and thought patterns can be quite informative.
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Re: Male vs female range of emotions and feelings

Postby JayDee » Tue Nov 03, 2009 9:46 am UTC

Splendid wrote:It seems to me like my girlfriend (and most other female friends) have a very large range of emotions available to her. I don't think I literally 'feel' that much or that deep.
Honestly, I don't think you can know. Humans are black-box kinda things, and we never really know what's going on inside someone else. At best we think we have an idea based on how they communicate with us - and I reckon what you are talking about can be explained by the observation that our society tends to encourage females to develop emotional communication skills but discourage the same in men. The people who have the skills and vocab to discuss their feelings are the people who seem to have 'more' feelings, and the people who have difficulty expressing the same seem to have far 'less' feelings.
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Re: Male vs female range of emotions and feelings

Postby Amarantha » Tue Nov 03, 2009 10:17 am UTC

I'm female, and I think my range is pretty narrow. I don't dispute your observation of yourself, your girlfriend and her friends, but I think the whole "women feel more in general" thing is a bit of a cultural gender-role assumption.


Edit - spectacularly multi-ninja'd :P

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Re: Male vs female range of emotions and feelings

Postby Gelsamel » Tue Nov 03, 2009 10:57 am UTC

While the average of all "Males" and "Females" (for what ever definitions you use) may indeed be different we should keep in mind that the variation within groups vastly exceeds the variation between groups. And thus the difference between averages is not particularly meaningful at all.

My personal range of emotions is very low, especially so on the negative side of emotions.
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Re: Male vs female range of emotions and feelings

Postby guenther » Tue Nov 03, 2009 2:00 pm UTC

Gelsamel wrote:While the average of all "Males" and "Females" (for what ever definitions you use) may indeed be different we should keep in mind that the variation within groups vastly exceeds the variation between groups. And thus the difference between averages is not particularly meaningful at all.

So your saying they're statistically insignificant so as to amount to noise? Do you have a citation?

Every relationship book I've read has acknowledged a meaningful difference. And anecdotally I can say that those differences have been reasonable guesses for everyone I knew that read them. I would guess the difference is something like height and weight. It's silly to assume that every woman is shorter than every man. But if you are giving away free t-shirts (perhaps they're gender specific), it's not a bad idea to assume the woman will on average want one a size or two smaller.

Personally I see a difference in how men and woman handle emotions, but I'm not sure it's precisely how the OP captured it. To me it seems that there's not a difference in range but in how we express it over time. There are times when I get quite angry, but my wife might get annoyed with me more frequently. I'm not ready to generalize that particular experience to everyone, but I definitely think there's a difference.
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Re: Male vs female range of emotions and feelings

Postby Jessica » Tue Nov 03, 2009 2:22 pm UTC

As always, with these things, there is a biological component and a social component.

In our culture, it's not generally acceptable for men to display emotion. It's generally acceptable, in fact encouraged for women to display emotion. Men are logical, women are emotional. That will have a heightening effect, or at least SOME effect, making it not entirely biological.

But, from a biological side, I can say there are some physical differences. Since taking estrogen (myself) my moods have become much more varied. Before I took them, I was pretty constant, if low feeling. Now that I have them, my moods go up and down a lot more. I rarely cried before I took hormones, and when I did I could stop myself if I had too. I have less control now then I did before.

Of course, that doesn't mean that it's entirely biological. It could be that the reason for that is social. But, that's my biological experience.
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Re: Male vs female range of emotions and feelings

Postby Splendid » Tue Nov 03, 2009 6:07 pm UTC

I'm not trying to be a douchetruck. I've been thinking about this for a while now, so mostly I was curious if any other guys felt their "emotion grid" closely resembled mine. If you want me to remove the female aspect of it, I can.

Amarantha wrote:I'm female, and I think my range is pretty narrow. I don't dispute your observation of yourself, your girlfriend and her friends, but I think the whole "women feel more in general" thing is a bit of a cultural gender-role assumption.


Edit - spectacularly multi-ninja'd :P

I get you. I guess I just meant "most of the females I've come in contact with", and wondered what other girls had to say on it.

@Jessica: That reasoning had crossed my mind, about it not being 'okay' for guys to show emotion, and whether or not my own perceived emotional... I don't know.. barriers were indeed nature (being legitimately unable) or nurture (being trained not to).
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Re: Male vs female range of emotions and feelings

Postby Rinsaikeru » Tue Nov 03, 2009 6:50 pm UTC

As with most other things, I'd say that it's "both and" rather than one or the other. From near infancy boys are told to quit crying and man up while girls are encouraged to cry it out etc. I still see this happen with parents at the community centre I work at, it's not an outdated model.

I'm not one prone to emotional rollercoasters myself--at least not usually. I tend to be pretty positive, don't stay angry long, don't lash out, am mostly reasonable. I know several male type people who are much more 'emotional' than I am in outward appearance. I'd say that the variance is pretty broad.
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Re: Male vs female range of emotions and feelings

Postby Philwelch » Wed Nov 04, 2009 7:50 am UTC

Gelsamel wrote:While the average of all "Males" and "Females" (for what ever definitions you use) may indeed be different we should keep in mind that the variation within groups vastly exceeds the variation between groups. And thus the difference between averages is not particularly meaningful at all.


I might have to do some math, but I'm not sure that's accurate.

Suppose we have two populations, A and B. A and B are both normally distributed on variable X. On average, A is 1 more X than B. But in both A and B, the standard deviation of X is 3. You'd see two bell-curve graphs offset by 1 with the same width:

curves.png
curves.png (32.19 KiB) Viewed 5348 times


in which a considerable majority of B are below average for A, a considerable majority of A are above average for B, and at either extreme, one group or the other dominates. It turns out the difference between averages makes a lot of difference here.

Jessica wrote:As always, with these things, there is a biological component and a social component.

In our culture, it's not generally acceptable for men to display emotion. It's generally acceptable, in fact encouraged for women to display emotion. Men are logical, women are emotional. That will have a heightening effect, or at least SOME effect, making it not entirely biological.


I'm...not actually sure that's completely the case. In Germanic/northern European cultures, which in practice includes North America, men are socialized to not show fear or sadness or despair, but anger is more tolerated from men than it is from women. Women's anger is usually patronized or dismissed as "bitchy" even in situations where men are given a pass to lose their tempers a bit. In fact, women are expected to be happy and pleasant even in situations where men are allowed to show dissatisfaction or anger.
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Re: Male vs female range of emotions and feelings

Postby Gelsamel » Wed Nov 04, 2009 8:03 am UTC

You're just pointing out that a difference in the averages of otherwise identical bell curves means that one A has a majority above the average of B. That's pretty much tacit given that the averages are different. What I'm saying is that the variation within a group is -much- larger than the difference in the average.

Imagine for a second where variation within a group is -not- very large. The average difference then would be like two very tall and spiky bell curves where A has almost -all- of the curve above the average. Now think of a very wide curve, in this case only a small majority amount would be above the average (like 55% or something).

Also take into account that even on that curve you've presented the intersect is by far the vast majority. But yeah you can manipulate the curves to show different things.



In summary:

If you set the SD to like 15 then only a very slight majority of A would be ahead of B, if you set the SD to like 0.01 then essentially all of A would be ahead of B. I'm saying the difference within the male/female groups (however they be defined) is much much larger than the difference in the average. Ie. a huge SD. Which means the overlap between the groups is almost the entirety of both groups.
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Re: Male vs female range of emotions and feelings

Postby Philwelch » Wed Nov 04, 2009 8:29 am UTC

Gelsamel wrote:You're just pointing out that a difference in the averages of otherwise identical bell curves means that one A has a majority above the average of B. That's pretty much tacit given that the averages are different. What I'm saying is that the variation within a group is -much- larger than the difference in the average.


A difference in mean of about 1 and a difference in sigma of about 3 is a significantly higher variation within a group than between groups.

Gelsamel wrote:Also take into account that even on that curve you've presented the intersect is by far the vast majority. But yeah you can manipulate the curves to show different things.


There is a large intersect, but that doesn't actually mean anything. On average, your A-member is still going to be 1 more X than your B-member, and it's still more probable that a randomly selected A will be more X than B than not.

Also keep in mind that things change a lot if sigma can change between populations.
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Re: Male vs female range of emotions and feelings

Postby Gelsamel » Wed Nov 04, 2009 8:37 am UTC

Philwelch wrote:There is a large intersect, but that doesn't actually mean anything. On average, your A-member is still going to be 1 more X than your B-member, and it's still more probable that a randomly selected A will be more X than B than not.

Also keep in mind that things change a lot if sigma can change between populations.


Yes... of course on average. That's what I'm saying.

I'm saying the average doesn't justify statements like "Females have a wider range of emotions" because a very very large minority (as in, almost a majority) will be below the other group (As in, an almost-majority of females will have a smaller range of emotions than males). It doesn't justify a valid stereotype or really even distinction between the groups in this respect.


Also, small side note: Expression has little to do with experience. Just because culture pressures X into not expressing Y in situation Z does not mean they don't experience it.
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Re: Male vs female range of emotions and feelings

Postby Splendid » Wed Nov 04, 2009 9:45 am UTC

Gelsamel wrote:I'm saying the average doesn't justify statements like "Females have a wider range of emotions" because a very very large minority (as in, almost a majority) will be below the other group (As in, an almost-majority of females will have a smaller range of emotions than males). It doesn't justify a valid stereotype or really even distinction between the groups in this respect.


Also, small side note: Expression has little to do with experience. Just because culture pressures X into not expressing Y in situation Z does not mean they don't experience it.

These are the kinds of statements and takes on the subject I was looking for. I'm getting the feeling exact values for your and Phil's variables would be difficult to quantify.
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Re: Male vs female range of emotions and feelings

Postby Philwelch » Wed Nov 04, 2009 9:50 am UTC

Gelsamel wrote:
Philwelch wrote:There is a large intersect, but that doesn't actually mean anything. On average, your A-member is still going to be 1 more X than your B-member, and it's still more probable that a randomly selected A will be more X than B than not.

Also keep in mind that things change a lot if sigma can change between populations.


Yes... of course on average. That's what I'm saying.

I'm saying the average doesn't justify statements like "Females have a wider range of emotions" because a very very large minority (as in, almost a majority) will be below the other group (As in, an almost-majority of females will have a smaller range of emotions than males). It doesn't justify a valid stereotype or really even distinction between the groups in this respect.


On this model...it does, on numerous counts:

1. The overwhelming majority of people on either extreme will belong to one group of the other.
2. A majority of randomly-chosen pairings between members of each group will exhibit the "stereotyped" disparity.
3. An average member of one group will be significantly above or below the average of the other group: in this model, the average member of A would be in the 60-something percentile were they a member of group B, and the average member of group B would be in the 30-something percentile were they a member of group A.

The lower tail of the A distribution substantially overlaps with the upper tail of the B distribution, granted. But when you put it that way, doesn't that in itself suggest a difference between the groups?
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Re: Male vs female range of emotions and feelings

Postby Gelsamel » Wed Nov 04, 2009 10:08 am UTC

Philwelch wrote:
Gelsamel wrote:
Philwelch wrote:There is a large intersect, but that doesn't actually mean anything. On average, your A-member is still going to be 1 more X than your B-member, and it's still more probable that a randomly selected A will be more X than B than not.

Also keep in mind that things change a lot if sigma can change between populations.


Yes... of course on average. That's what I'm saying.

I'm saying the average doesn't justify statements like "Females have a wider range of emotions" because a very very large minority (as in, almost a majority) will be below the other group (As in, an almost-majority of females will have a smaller range of emotions than males). It doesn't justify a valid stereotype or really even distinction between the groups in this respect.


On this model...it does, on numerous counts:

1. The overwhelming majority of people on either extreme will belong to one group of the other.
2. A majority of randomly-chosen pairings between members of each group will exhibit the "stereotyped" disparity.
3. An average member of one group will be significantly above or below the average of the other group: in this model, the average member of A would be in the 60-something percentile were they a member of group B, and the average member of group B would be in the 30-something percentile were they a member of group A.

The lower tail of the A distribution substantially overlaps with the upper tail of the B distribution, granted. But when you put it that way, doesn't that in itself suggest a difference between the groups?


I didn't say the groups were identical, just that the difference was less than the difference within groups.

2 and 3 are just part of the nature of averages. This is going to happen. But when "Females have a larger range of emotion" doesn't apply to 40% of the group... that suggests that it's not a particularly useful statement to make.

As for 1... that only applies to the extremes which are, as bell curves go, the least common traits.
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Re: Male vs female range of emotions and feelings

Postby Philwelch » Wed Nov 04, 2009 10:10 am UTC

Gelsamel wrote:I didn't say the groups were identical, just that the difference was less than the difference within groups.

2 and 3 are just part of the nature of averages. This is going to happen.


Yes, but they also mean that a difference in averages, even in a situation with large variance within the populations, will usually show up when comparing members of each population. This still doesn't seem to be getting through to you, so I'll let you sit on it for a few days before I say much else about it.
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Re: Male vs female range of emotions and feelings

Postby Gelsamel » Wed Nov 04, 2009 10:14 am UTC

Philwelch wrote:
Gelsamel wrote:I didn't say the groups were identical, just that the difference was less than the difference within groups.

2 and 3 are just part of the nature of averages. This is going to happen.


Yes, but they also mean that a difference in averages, even in a situation with large variance within the populations, will usually show up when comparing members of each population. This still doesn't seem to be getting through to you, so I'll let you sit on it for a few days before I say much else about it.



No, yes... I understand that. This is the nature of averages... when you take a random sample from A and compare it to B you will generally notice this difference. That is true and I don't dispute that.

What I'm saying is with respect to "Male vs Female range of emotions and feelings" ie. groups as a whole, not as an average or random sampling. I'm saying that the statement "Females have a larger range of emotions" (while in average might be correct) is incorrect as a generalised rule or stereotype. As in "You're a female so you have a larger range of emotions than me, because I'm a male" is not supported by a difference in average.

Edit: As opposed to two very distinct and sharp bell curves that hardly overlap at all which might indeed support a generalised rule or stereotype (because, say, you would only be wrong like 1% or less of the time with that stereotype).
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Re: Male vs female range of emotions and feelings

Postby Philwelch » Wed Nov 04, 2009 10:49 am UTC

Gelsamel wrote:No, yes... I understand that. This is the nature of averages... when you take a random sample from A and compare it to B you will generally notice this difference. That is true and I don't dispute that.

What I'm saying is with respect to "Male vs Female range of emotions and feelings" ie. groups as a whole, not as an average or random sampling. I'm saying that the statement "Females have a larger range of emotions" (while in average might be correct) is incorrect as a generalised rule or stereotype.


How else can you make it a generalized rule or a stereotype other than noticing the very kinds of differences between the groups I've outlined and given examples of for you? The average and standard deviation are all there are to say about the group as a whole, so unless there is something interesting to say about the difference in standard deviation, the only interesting way to compare the two groups is to compare their averages.

Likewise, the purpose of a stereotype is to make a default assumption given limited information. If you have maybe a 60% probability that a randomly chosen member of set A is more X than a randomly chosen member of set B, your stereotype is 60% valid. Lots of generalized rules work at 60%, depending on what you're trying to do, and it's just plain bullshit to call something "incorrect" when it's correct >50% of the time.
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Re: Male vs female range of emotions and feelings

Postby schmiggen » Wed Nov 04, 2009 11:03 am UTC

Philwelch wrote:How else can you make it a generalized rule or a stereotype other than noticing the very kinds of differences between the groups I've outlined and given examples of for you? The average and standard deviation are all there are to say about the group as a whole, so unless there is something interesting to say about the difference in standard deviation, the only interesting way to compare the two groups is to compare their averages.

Likewise, the purpose of a stereotype is to make a default assumption given limited information. If you have maybe a 60% probability that a randomly chosen member of set A is more X than a randomly chosen member of set B, your stereotype is 60% valid. Lots of generalized rules work at 60%, depending on what you're trying to do, and it's just plain bullshit to call something "incorrect" when it's correct >50% of the time.


How many stereotypes do you think people take to mean "such and such is true about half or a little more than half of the time"? By the time someone accepts a stereotype about a certain group, in my experience (and as you suggested yourself), they more or less have accepted it as a general truth about that group, from which any deviation is an extreme outlier not to be expected, rather than part of the other nearly-half of the group. If 40% of the group does not fit a stereotype, then it seems ridiculous to support that stereotype for any reason. Do you see a practical purpose to encouraging such a stereotype/generalized-rule at 60%? Because with stereotypes, the options are usually "correct" or "incorrect", not "correct" or "correct a little more than half of the time".

That said, if this subject is going to revolve around statistical inferences, shouldn't we get some actual data from somewhere first?
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Re: Male vs female range of emotions and feelings

Postby Gelsamel » Wed Nov 04, 2009 11:15 am UTC

Not "Incorrect" (If I explicitly said that, I take it back. I was wrong).

More "Not correct enough". A stereotype of a gender that is wrong 40% of the time is a bad stereotype. Stereotypes are conceptions/images that people have of the group and often (as one look at our culture will tell you) end up as assumptions about people within that group... and 60% really isn't enough to justify such assumptions.




I have not done the math to check, so take this as a passing thought. But just briefly thinking about a good number... I'd say it's somewhere around when the intersect of the two curves is just less than half the area of the individual curves. But, as I said I have not done the calculation to figure out what % accuracy that would be... (just guessing it would be somewhere like 80-90%, might be wrong)... so I might disagree dependant on what number it comes out to be... but yeah... just as a passing thought that would seem about right to me.
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Re: Male vs female range of emotions and feelings

Postby Philwelch » Wed Nov 04, 2009 12:30 pm UTC

schmiggen wrote:
Philwelch wrote:Likewise, the purpose of a stereotype is to make a default assumption given limited information. If you have maybe a 60% probability that a randomly chosen member of set A is more X than a randomly chosen member of set B, your stereotype is 60% valid. Lots of generalized rules work at 60%, depending on what you're trying to do, and it's just plain bullshit to call something "incorrect" when it's correct >50% of the time.


How many stereotypes do you think people take to mean "such and such is true about half or a little more than half of the time"?...Because with stereotypes, the options are usually "correct" or "incorrect", not "correct" or "correct a little more than half of the time".


No statement is correct 100% of the time, not even this one. By which I mean, most statements are correct less than 100% of the time. Statements which are true 55-60% of the time are often actionable, however.

When we talk about extremities, these kinds of stereotypes will be correct a significantly higher amount of the time as well. A stereotype like "A's are more X than B's" is not useful if you're looking for people with average levels of X-ness, but can be substantially meaningful if you are looking for someone who is extremely X or extremely not-X, because the tails are going to show more disparity than the centers. (With a proviso: the tails will be fatter or thinner depending upon standard deviation, so a population with more variation might actually win out at both extremes regardless of how its average differs.)

schmiggen wrote:That said, if this subject is going to revolve around statistical inferences, shouldn't we get some actual data from somewhere first?


I was discussing the more general claim that if variation within a group is greater than variation between groups, we can't meaningfully separate the groups. There are many situations where you can.
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Re: Male vs female range of emotions and feelings

Postby Azrael » Wed Nov 04, 2009 12:38 pm UTC

Can we avoid quoting the thread back into itself in increasingly large chunks?

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Re: Male vs female range of emotions and feelings

Postby Jessica » Wed Nov 04, 2009 4:09 pm UTC

Sorry phil, but when you contradicted me, did you also agree with me?
It sounded like you said "cultural effects range from culture to culture." Maybe i'm wrong in reading it that way.

I mean, essentially what I was saying is that there are biological ranges. Personal mins and maxes for values. And, on average, most people fall within one SD of the mean. But, there are social values which can enhance or decrease on a personal level.
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Re: Male vs female range of emotions and feelings

Postby Philwelch » Wed Nov 04, 2009 5:11 pm UTC

Jessica wrote:Sorry phil, but when you contradicted me, did you also agree with me?
It sounded like you said "cultural effects range from culture to culture." Maybe i'm wrong in reading it that way.


I was saying "men are socialized to be unemotional, women are socialized to be emotional" is an oversimplification. It depends on the emotion. Women are socialized to be less angry and men are socialized to be less despairing.
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Re: Male vs female range of emotions and feelings

Postby Rinsaikeru » Wed Nov 04, 2009 5:20 pm UTC

You can sort of go down the list of emotions and fit them into columns:
Men/Women and a couple of neutral ones.
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Re: Male vs female range of emotions and feelings

Postby podbaydoor » Wed Nov 04, 2009 8:52 pm UTC

@Philwelch: that 40% is a pretty darn significant percentage of the group in question who are going to have to combat that stereotype all the damn time. Especially if that stereotype will affect jobs and all relationships in a very significant way.
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Re: Male vs female range of emotions and feelings

Postby setzer777 » Wed Nov 04, 2009 9:17 pm UTC

podbaydoor wrote:@Philwelch: that 40% is a pretty darn significant percentage of the group in question who are going to have to combat that stereotype all the damn time. Especially if that stereotype will affect jobs and all relationships in a very significant way.


Yeah, it wouldn't be a problem if people just took the stereotype as a tentative guide to be abandoned as soon as the person shows signs of being an outlier, but that's not how it usually goes. The stereotype can come to define the group, so that someone who doesn't fit it becomes "less than". At least on the male side, it seems like when you say: "Men do X" people turn that around to say: "If you don't do X you aren't really a man".

Edit: To the OP:

Hmm...I feel like I have a pretty decent range of emotions. Actually sometimes I feel like I lack the vocabulary to describe what I'm feeling. I'll feel a sense of uneasiness and dissatisfaction that's difficult to nail down (perhaps a specific mixture of boredom, anxiety, and sadness), or a level of contentment that's hard to capture in words (though in general I find it easier to describe positive emotions than negative ones).
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Re: Male vs female range of emotions and feelings

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Nov 04, 2009 9:46 pm UTC

I wonder perhaps if we feel the same range and intensity, but control them/understand them to different degrees. I recall reading that men are less perceptive to pain stimuli, but worse at dealing with it, and women are more sensitive to pain stimuli, but better able to deal with it; perhaps emotional ranges/depths are similar?
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Re: Male vs female range of emotions and feelings

Postby guenther » Wed Nov 04, 2009 10:34 pm UTC

So with Philwelch's example, would people be happy with "Men tend to do X" rather than "Men do X"? If there's a difference in the mean that stands out above noise, then we should be able to say that in some fashion.

By the way, for height we seem to be OK with saying "Men are taller than women", and crunching mean and standard deviation numbers (69.3 and 2.8 for men, 64 and 2.7 for women), it's right about 91% of the time for random pairings.
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Re: Male vs female range of emotions and feelings

Postby Zcorp » Wed Nov 04, 2009 11:01 pm UTC

guenther wrote:So with Philwelch's example, would people be happy with "Men tend to do X" rather than "Men do X"? If there's a difference in the mean that stands out above noise, then we should be able to say that in some fashion.
I'd not be happy with it.
How about, Men raised in X location during Y time period with Z meso, micro, socioeconomic, and marco influence tend to display behavior like M.

While there certainly seems to be a biological influence (i.e. testosterone vs estrogen) environmental expectation of gender roles and behavior would seem to have a much larger effect then biological side. I can also state with great accuracy that Japanese or Chinese people display less emotion then Americans. Or that Japanese and Chinese women display less emotion then American men.

However it is important to distinguish between what male and female mean compared to what masculinity and femininity mean. The two concepts are all to often merged due to similarity in phonemes within the english language (or many with a latin root), although they certainly do not mean the same thing. If people are greatly opposed to using those words we can change them to any number of words that talk about the same primary concept. Yin to Yang, Anima to Animus etc.

By the way, for height we seem to be OK with saying "Men are taller than women", and crunching mean and standard deviation numbers (69.3 and 2.8 for men, 64 and 2.7 for women), it's right about 91% of the time for random pairings.
Men in general being taller then women is primarily a biological aspect of gender differences (as is physical strength or carrying a child) while emotional control is not.

Additionally it is always important to know that generalities about a group should never be applied to an individual of that group.
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Re: Male vs female range of emotions and feelings

Postby JayDee » Wed Nov 04, 2009 11:28 pm UTC

guenther wrote:[W]ould people be happy with "Men tend to do X" rather than "Men do X"?
I doubt I'm alone in saying that isn't really any better. While there are contexts in which it might be fine and dandy - say, in papers about gendered socialisation in modern Britain or whatnot - I really don't see what benefit there is talking about traits of gender-groups (even if we are making an effort to admit they only apply to half the group or so) to outweigh the known problems.

guenther wrote:By the way, for height we seem to be OK with saying "Men are taller than women", and crunching mean and standard deviation numbers (69.3 and 2.8 for men, 64 and 2.7 for women), it's right about 91% of the time for random pairings.
I'll bet we can find people who aren't okay with that, either.
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Re: Male vs female range of emotions and feelings

Postby setzer777 » Thu Nov 05, 2009 12:04 am UTC

guenther wrote:So with Philwelch's example, would people be happy with "Men tend to do X" rather than "Men do X"? If there's a difference in the mean that stands out above noise, then we should be able to say that in some fashion.

By the way, for height we seem to be OK with saying "Men are taller than women", and crunching mean and standard deviation numbers (69.3 and 2.8 for men, 64 and 2.7 for women), it's right about 91% of the time for random pairings.


To me the amount of care that goes into phrasing a generalized statement has to do with how likely that stereotype is to be turned into a command. Height isn't a big issue, because virtually everyone realizes that one's height is outside of one's control. "Men don't cry" is problematic, because it can easily lead to: "Men don't cry, you're a man, so don't cry".
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Re: Male vs female range of emotions and feelings

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Nov 05, 2009 2:38 am UTC

Zcorp wrote:Men in general being taller then women is primarily a biological aspect of gender differences (as is physical strength or carrying a child) while emotional control is not.


I'm curious why offhand you assume that emotions are distinct from biology?
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Re: Male vs female range of emotions and feelings

Postby JayDee » Thu Nov 05, 2009 2:58 am UTC

Even if we assume that emotions themselves are purely biological, that doesn't say anything about emotion control or emotion expression. And those are what we are really talking about here.
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Re: Male vs female range of emotions and feelings

Postby Gelsamel » Thu Nov 05, 2009 3:16 am UTC

Is it though?

Emotional control is what emotions you let affect you and emotional expression is just what emotions you express... are we talking about those or are we talking about the actual -experience- of emotions? The OP seems to be talking about experiencing emotions* and not expression of emotions, but I may be misreading it.

*As in he does not experience stuff outside his range. Not just that he doesn't express feelings outside the range.
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Re: Male vs female range of emotions and feelings

Postby JayDee » Thu Nov 05, 2009 3:51 am UTC

Gelsamel wrote:The OP seems to be talking about experiencing emotions* and not expression of emotions, but I may be misreading it.
Our knowledge of other people's emotions (for instance, our knowledge of the emotions of another gender) is quite strongly influenced by their ability to communicate them. I mean, unless we are discussing some non-communication-based way of determining somebody's emotional state.
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Re: Male vs female range of emotions and feelings

Postby cj-maranup » Thu Nov 05, 2009 4:31 am UTC

A few random thoughts in response to the OP...

I think people do vary in terms of how intensely they experience emotions, and it's not necessarily down to gender - for example my dad is a very emotional person (a bit anxious & depressive - I don't know that I've ever seen him elated, but maybe he just doesn't show it), while my mum is very calm and pragmatic. She's also a psychologist, so I think it's a combination of biology (maybe something down to neurochemistry -not my field!) that means she doesn't experience things as intensely, coupled with 30 years of keeping her emotions in a box & minimising her reactions to the (sometimes awful) situations she deals with.

Also, I don't meant to get Orwellian on you all, but I think the way people express concepts does have some impact on the way they experience the world. For example languages other than english have words for emotions that we don't - there's a debate in psychology/anthropology about whether there is a universal 'keyboard' of human emotion and we just label things differently, or whether people from different cultures actually experience different emotions. From a gender perspective - I think maybe girls do (perhaps because they are encouraged to) spend a lot more time talking about feelings, and as such may have a larger vocabulary &/or 'repertoire' of emotions?

Sorry, if this is too nature/nurture, don't mean to go off-topic, but it's been suggested we have a biological 'capacity' for things like emotions (but also strength, height etc.) which are then differentially 'activated' by our environment (including culture, language, family life, social interactions etc.).

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Re: Male vs female range of emotions and feelings

Postby guenther » Thu Nov 05, 2009 4:57 am UTC

setzer777 wrote:To me the amount of care that goes into phrasing a generalized statement has to do with how likely that stereotype is to be turned into a command. Height isn't a big issue, because virtually everyone realizes that one's height is outside of one's control. "Men don't cry" is problematic, because it can easily lead to: "Men don't cry, you're a man, so don't cry".

We should be respectful when we speak, and consider the consequences of our words, but we should also be able to speak the truth. If we have to be so careful that it damages our ability to communicate clearly, there's a problem. If a study finds a difference in men and women, we should be free to talk about it without offending people.
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Re: Male vs female range of emotions and feelings

Postby setzer777 » Thu Nov 05, 2009 1:23 pm UTC

guenther wrote:
setzer777 wrote:To me the amount of care that goes into phrasing a generalized statement has to do with how likely that stereotype is to be turned into a command. Height isn't a big issue, because virtually everyone realizes that one's height is outside of one's control. "Men don't cry" is problematic, because it can easily lead to: "Men don't cry, you're a man, so don't cry".

We should be respectful when we speak, and consider the consequences of our words, but we should also be able to speak the truth. If we have to be so careful that it damages our ability to communicate clearly, there's a problem. If a study finds a difference in men and women, we should be free to talk about it without offending people.


Oh, I don't refrain from talking about facts, it's just that when it comes to things more likely to be enforced on people, I try harder to be clear about the fact that I'm talking about a statistical variance and not something that's inherent to being male or female (inherent in the sense that if you don't do it, you are "less of a (wo)man").
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