The Health Consequences of Gender‐
Stereotypic Emotional Expression
I try to minimize feeling envious because you just can't do anything about it—it just aggravates you.
—Frank, age 48
By talking and discussing things you never get to the point of going to slit your throat or getting angry about some minor thing ... That's how I deal with all of my negative problems, whether it's death or anger, or anything. I talk and talk and then it's over with.
—Denise, age 44
Is expressing emotions in gender-role stereotypic ways good or bad for each sex? Women tend to express more intense and frequent emotions across many different situations than men do, especially those conveying distress and dysphoria. In many studies, expressing emotions is seen as beneficial. For example, expressing negative feelings (especially those related to traumatic experiences) has been found to be related to better immune functioning. It should follow that women's immune functioning would be bolstered more frequently than men's (Pennebaker 1989, 1993). On the other hand, expressing negative feelings does not benefit people's health in all situations. For example, the negative emotions expressed during marital conflict, including criticizing, disagreeing, interrupting, disapproving, and expressing dysphoric affect, compromise the immune functioning of both sexes, but especially women's (Kiecolt‐ Glaser et al. 1993, 1996; Mayne et al. 1997).
Contradictory evidence about the effects of emotional expression is especially evident for cardiovascular reactivity. In opposite conclusions, men's minmized expression of anger has been linked to hypertension and