Emotional restraint is good for men only: The influence of emotional restraint on perceptions of competence

Emotion. 2016 Mar;16(2):208-13. doi: 10.1037/emo0000125. Epub 2015 Oct 12.


The present research investigated the notion that passionate restraint or "manly emotion" is a relevant emotion norm not only for men but also for women in modern Western society (MacArthur & Shields, 2015). For this, 2 studies were conducted to assess whether restraint in emotional reactivity is perceived as a sign of both emotional and general competence. Restraint was induced by delaying the onset of the emotional reaction to a purported emotion elicitor. The results show that men were indeed rated as both more emotionally competent and more intelligent in general when they showed restraint, confirming the notion that such restraint fits a positively valued Western ideal of emotional reactivity. For women, however, the opposite pattern emerged in that they were perceived as more emotionally competent and intelligent when they reacted immediately than when restraint was induced. Thus, manly emotions were good for men only.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Emotional Intelligence*
  • Emotions*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Perception*
  • Professional Competence*
  • Sexism