Father’s Day 2014: Study shows men are more emotionally sensitive than women – they’re just also better at hiding it

Men scored higher for physiological reactions to a range of emotional stimuli

It is tempting to stereotype dads as gruff, unfeeling beasts who wouldn’t be overly moved whether you remembered to get them a Father’s Day card or not.

There certainly doesn’t seem to be the same outpouring of emotion to mark the annual day of parental celebration as we tend to see on TV and online for Mother’s Day, to make a simple comparison.

Yet according to a study carried out by neurologists at Mindlab, men are actually more sensitive than women when it comes to all sorts of emotional stimuli – they are just also better at keeping it under wraps.

Scientists asked two groups of volunteers, 15 fathers and 15 mothers, to watch a series of videos while their physiological responses were measured by skin conductance electrodes.

The content was categorised into four topics: blissful, funny, exciting and heart-warming – and experts were surprised to see that men displayed marginally stronger reactions on average to all of the first three.

Fathers tested higher for emotional responses to a range of stimuli - but later said they had felt less than women did Fathers tested higher for emotional responses to a range of stimuli - but later said they had felt less than women did Even more shocking was the results for the “heart-warming” category, however. The experiment showed that men actually responded twice as much to this content than women.

While it seems our traditional representations of fathers must be wrong, the experiment did at least suggest they may be inspired by the behaviour of men themselves (or, perhaps, vice versa).

When asked after taking part to rate how the content made them feel, women on average clearly said they felt more emotional than men – despite the physiological indications to the contrary.

Father's Day cards on a shelf, as scientists said they had discovered the best messages to elicit an emotional response in dads Father's Day cards on a shelf, as scientists said they had discovered the best messages to elicit an emotional response in dads The research was carried out in association with the Royal Mail, which also took the opportunity to test (and rank) the reaction displayed by men to typical Father’s Day card messages.

Neuropsychologist Dr David Lewis, the director of Mindlab and a former lecturer at the University of Sussex, said: “Gender stereotypes about men being stoic and women being emotional are reinforced by our day to day consumption of media and our social interactions.

“We tend to oversimplify and exaggerate the perceived differences between men and women and are more likely to focus on evidence that supports our existing gender stereotypes.

“This study suggests that men feel emotion just as much as women, sometimes more strongly, but are less willing to express these emotions openly due to expectations put on them by society.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

Day In a Page

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own
Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England