Words, Faces, Voices, and Behaviors
If I was playing Chutes and Ladders and I got really mad, I'd probably throw a piece of the board at my friend, you know, probably fling the directions at him.
—Dylan, age 6
If I'm mad it says right across my face that I'm mad. If I am, you know it.
—Martha, age 42
In contrast to our stereotypes, which link the expression of anger with men, and sadness, fear, and warmth with women, actual gender differences in emotional expressiveness cannot be summarized so quickly and easily. Gender differences occur in some situations, but not in others, and similarly, in some modalities of emotional expression, but not in others. If we attempt to systematically understand the nature of the situations and modalities in which gender differences occur, but also in which they do not occur, we will be one step closer to understanding the meaning of gender differences in emotional expressiveness, one step closer to understanding why gender differences occur at all.
In this chapter, I will look at how women and men use words, behaviors, and facial and vocal expressions to express emotions. Because gender differences in each of these modalities vary so widely in different situations, I will emphasize the context in which emotions are expressed. Much previous research fails to acknowledge the degree to which gender differences are situationally and culturally based.
There are some other cautions that apply to the studies I am about to summarize. One is that they often focus on gender differences in