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Gender, emotion, and channel in emotion processing (Lin et al., 2021)

posted on 2021-07-26, 17:48 authored by Yi Lin, Hongwei Ding, Yang Zhang
Purpose: The nature of gender differences in emotion processing has remained unclear due to the discrepancies in existing literature. This study examined the modulatory effects of emotion categories and communication channels on gender differences in verbal and nonverbal emotion perception.
Method: Eighty-eight participants (43 females and 45 males) were asked to identify three basic emotions (i.e., happiness, sadness, and anger) and neutrality encoded by female or male actors from verbal (i.e., semantic) or nonverbal (i.e., facial and prosodic) channels.
Results: While women showed an overall advantage in performance, their superiority was dependent on specific types of emotion and channel. Specifically, women outperformed men in regard to two basic emotions (happiness and sadness) in the nonverbal channels and only the anger category with verbal content. Conversely, men did better for the anger category in the nonverbal channels and for the other two emotions (happiness and sadness) in verbal content. There was an emotion- and channel-specific interaction effect between the two types of gender differences, with male subjects showing higher sensitivity to sad faces and prosody portrayed by the female encoders.
Conclusion: These findings reveal explicit emotion processing as a highly dynamic complex process with significant gender differences tied to specific emotion categories and communication channels.

Supplemental Material S1. Selected words for the prosodic and semantic task and their familiarity level.

Supplemental Material S2. Pairwise contrasts for significant interactions of Channel × Emotion × Decoders’ Gender (Model 13) and Channel × Emotion × Encoders’ Gender (Model 14) in accuracy.

Supplemental Material S3. Pairwise contrasts for the significant interaction of Channel × Emotion × Decoders’ Gender × Encoders’ Gender (Model 15) in reaction time.

Lin, Y., Ding, H., & Zhang, Y. (2021). Gender differences in identifying facial, prosodic, and semantic emotions show category- and channel-specific effects mediated by encoder’s gender. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research. Advance online publication.


H.W.D. and Y.Z. were supported by the major program of National Fund of Philosophy and Social Science of China (18ZDA293). Y.Z. additionally received support from the University of Minnesota’s Brain Imaging Grant and Grand Challenges Exploratory Research Grant for international collaboration.