Researchers at the University of Michigan describe how what is often considered “passionate” in men is labelled “irrational” in women. Over a two-month period, 142 men and women completed a daily questionnaire focusing on their emotions.
Participants rated how they experiences positive emotions, for example, determination or excitement.
They also registered how they were impacted by negative emotions, such as irritability.
Men’s emotions were just as variable as women’s over the 75 days of recorded answers, the results suggest.
Men may even experience more varied positive feelings, the researchers add.
The study also accounted for how hormonal medication, such as certain forms of contraception, influenced emotional state.
Included in the research was a comparison of women who regularly take the Pill and those who do not.
They found no major differences between the groups.
The Pill is known to dampen hormonal mood swings, with some who take it reporting increased irritability or depression.
Dr Adriene Beltz, senior author of the study at Michigan University, described the multitude of factors that can influence emotional state, beyond the influence of hormones.
She said that the study “didn’t find meaningful differences between the groups of women, making clear that emotional highs and lows are due to many influences—not only hormones”.
She added: “There is evidence many factors beyond hormones can affect people’s emotions, including a lack of sleep, interactions with others, winter weather, their team losing at sports or having watched a sad film.”
She described how certain emotions are perceived very differently in men and women, with how they are interpreted being the key difference, not the emotions themselves.
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She added: “A man whose emotions fluctuate during a sporting event is described as passionate, but a woman is considered irrational.
“Everyone’s emotions go up and down.”
The researchers say that their findings have ramifications not only for the average citizen but far beyond that.
They cite how women are often excluded from participating in some forms of research, under the assumption that hormonal fluctuations can impact results.
They add that because the hormones are considered to lead to emotional unpredictability, research will sideline women in controlled experiments.
Dr Beltz continued: “Our study uniquely provides psychological data to show that the justifications for excluding women in the first place (because fluctuating ovarian hormones, and consequently emotions, confounded experiments) were misguided.”
This comes after a separate study suggested that men were found to be more emotional than women when going through a relationship breakup.
In an analysis of those seeking help for a breakup on online forums, men were found to solicit the advice of strangers on how to deal with those feelings more than women.