Gender Differences in Emotional Empathy

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    • 00:00


    • 00:09

      VICTOR KUPERMAN: Thank you.Either way, we're going to co-present,because it's really Constance's work.And there's no good reason why our students shouldn'tbe talking in Psychonomics.So I will start off by saying that I gave a talk a year agoat Psychonomics.As a section of my class, which reportedresults of a larger magnet study in which we collected

    • 00:29

      VICTOR KUPERMAN [continued]: valence ratings for a large number of words,almost 14,000 words.And of course, valence is a scale of positivityfor which we used a 9 point scale,going from very negative to very positive from 1 to 9,And one of the findings-- the one that I presented--was that there are very clear gender

    • 00:50

      VICTOR KUPERMAN [continued]: differences in making about 3% of the words that we looked at.If you had more time and [INAUDIBLE],you see that the male happy words,the ones for which male participants gavehigh responses, are mostly obscenities, guns, drugs,and rock and roll.And female happy words, so the ones

    • 01:13

      VICTOR KUPERMAN [continued]: for which female participants gave significantly highratings, are mostly revolving around food, family,and relationships.So what we want to do-- this finding herehas-- we want to see how emotion is embodied.That is we want to see how these differences, the genderdifferences and emotional responses,

    • 01:34

      VICTOR KUPERMAN [continued]: are correlated with the approach and avoidance behavior.So causes will present a new task thatquantifies the slate between emotion and approachand avoidance behavior, and we will specificallylook at how gender differences and emotion aretranslated into that behavior.And even more specifically, how wellwe predict emotions of our own gender and the opposite gender.

    • 01:58

      CONSTANCE IMBAULT: OK, so as we all know,approach and avoidance behavior is basicallythat we would like to approach positive stimuliand avoid negative stimuli.And so approach and avoidance behavioris often measured with real world images,such as pictures of maybe scary animals or pictures of faces.And so these sorts of things can invoke approach and avoidance

    • 02:21

      CONSTANCE IMBAULT [continued]: behavior, but it's not commonly measuredwith linguistic stimuli.And linguistic stimuli is a symbolic system,so the letters that we use to create a wordhave been assigned, and so they don't actuallyhave those ecologically valid emotion attached to them.

    • 02:41

      CONSTANCE IMBAULT [continued]: So previously, if we do measure approach and avoidancestimuli-- or approach and avoidancebehavior with linguistic stimuli,we've see that it's categorical.So in these sorts of studies, there'll be a joystickand you either decide to approach a wordor avoid a word.But as we all know, approach and avoidance isn't categorical.It's more along a continuum.

    • 03:03

      CONSTANCE IMBAULT [continued]: So you can approach some things more than others,and you can avoid other things more than maybe some even morenegative stimuli.So our slider will measure the approach and avoidance behavioralong a continuum, because this is actuallyhow approach and avoidance is done in the real world.So this is an example of what our participants will see.

    • 03:24

      CONSTANCE IMBAULT [continued]: So the mannequin in the center of the screenrepresents the participant, and they'retold to approach-- just go as close or as faras they want from that word.And then they're presented with a bunch of words,and then they give us their approach and avoidancebehavior.And so we measure their approach and avoidancefrom the distance from the word which

    • 03:44

      CONSTANCE IMBAULT [continued]: is measured through pixels.So the closer you are to a word, the more you're approaching itand the further away, the more you're avoiding it.And so we choose our words to represent the entire rangeof valence and arousal.And so as Victor said, valence, again,is the negativity positivity, and arousalis the dullness to excitedness.

    • 04:07

      CONSTANCE IMBAULT [continued]: And so this is the results that weget when we just give participants the entire rangeof valence and arousal.So on the x-axis, we have valence.And so negative-- a low number is negative,a high number is positive.And then we have distance from the word.And so as we can see here, we clearlytend to approach positive words and avoid negative words.

    • 04:31

      CONSTANCE IMBAULT [continued]: And now I can get into the little bit more exciting partof the talk.And so as Victor said, we do see gender differencesin valence ratings, and we want to seehow this translates to the approach and avoidancebehavior.So what we do to calculate this differenceis we have the male rating, and we subtract the female rating.So a negative number would signifythat females rated that word as being more positive,

    • 04:54

      CONSTANCE IMBAULT [continued]: and a positive number would signifythat males rated that word as beingmore positive than females did.And so these are some examples of wordsthat have a gender skewed bias.So the female words admittedly are kind of boring.Something like adoration, ballet, share, openness.The kind of just wholesome words.

    • 05:15

      CONSTANCE IMBAULT [continued]: But the exciting part, or the more interesting partare the male words.So something like adrenaline, ballpark, threesome, and gun.And so like Victor said, these alsoinclude all words about sex, swearwords-- You name it,it'll be in the male side of these words.And so now if we compare gender differences

    • 05:37

      CONSTANCE IMBAULT [continued]: to this gender skewed set of words,we can see that they do elicit differences in their approachand avoidance behavior.So on the x-axis, again, we have the valence difference.So on the left we have negative numbers,which signify that females rated that word as being morepositive, and on the right side wehave a positive valence rating, whichmeans that males rated that word as being more positive.

    • 06:00

      CONSTANCE IMBAULT [continued]: And then on the y-axis, we have the average distancefrom the word and this is, again, a different score.So a high number indicates that femaleswere closer to that word, and a negative number indicatesthat males were closer to that word.And so what we can see here is that females-- words thatwere rated as being more positive by femaleswere approached more by females and vice versa for males.

    • 06:27

      CONSTANCE IMBAULT [continued]: OK, so now we're going to get onto the question of this talk.So given that men and women approach and avoid stimulidifferently, will they be able to mimic howthe opposite gender responds?So we know that men and women are respondingcompletely differently, so we wantto see if there's any empathy towards the other gender,and see if we can predict how they're going to respond.

    • 06:48

      CONSTANCE IMBAULT [continued]: So we know from countless papers that on average, womenhave better theory of mind than menand they are also more empathetic than men.So it seems kind of obvious that females will be betterat this task, because in order to properly predicthow the opposite gender wants to respond,we need to first have theory of mindand then also empathy towards what the opposite gender wants.

    • 07:14

      CONSTANCE IMBAULT [continued]: So in this study, we had 34 females and 28 males,and these were all undergraduate participantsthat were monolingual English speakers.And so they had two blocks.One block was one gender, and the second blockwas another gender.And they responded to 140 words as each gender.

    • 07:34

      CONSTANCE IMBAULT [continued]: And so these are the instructionsthat we presented to the participant.So the little person represents a man or woman.Place it where you would want that personto be in relation to the word.And so this is an example of what the participants mightsee for the female figure.So this mannequin has like a typical washroom

    • 07:56

      CONSTANCE IMBAULT [continued]: female figure, so it's quite obvious what gender we'retrying to show here.And then we have a male figure.And so we get into the results.So here on this graph, we will have--the x-axis is valence rating, and then on the y-axiswe have distance.So first we can look at the male participants

    • 08:17

      CONSTANCE IMBAULT [continued]: with a male figure, so these are males responding essentiallyas themselves.And so as we can see, males are overall closer to all words,and this is especially true with negative words.If we look at the female participantwith the female figure, which is the green line,we see that they are further away from negative wordsand they're approaching positive words.

    • 08:39

      CONSTANCE IMBAULT [continued]: Now we can see how the different gendersare predicting each other.So if we look at the male participantwith the female figure, we can see that they actuallyare changing their responses in orderto mimic how females are responding.So if we look at negative words, wecan see that they actually are tryingto avoid these words to match females,and they're coming closer to positive words

    • 09:00

      CONSTANCE IMBAULT [continued]: in order to match females as well.And then if we look at the female participantwith a female figure, which is the pinkish red line,you can barely see it because it is essentiallythe exact same line as females responding as a female.So they seem to be completely unaffectedby the gender of the mannequin.

    • 09:21

      CONSTANCE IMBAULT [continued]: Females aren't changing their responses at all,whether they're responding as a male or a female.And so it's important to note just so you can followalong later that the uppercase letter identifiesthe gender of the participant, and then the lowercase letteridentifies the gender of the mannequin that they're moving.

    • 09:41

      CONSTANCE IMBAULT [continued]: OK, so now we've broken this down into wordsthat females rated as being more positive.So again, as we can see, males are closer to all words,and females are further away from negative wordsand approaching positive words.Again, we see that females aren't reallychanging their responses to match male participants.

    • 10:02

      CONSTANCE IMBAULT [continued]: They're essentially doing the exact same thingas they did when they were responding as a female.And again, we see that males are trying to respond similarlyto females.So again, they're trying to avoid negative wordsand approach positive words.So they have some sort of awarenessof what female's like.OK, so now we can get into the neutral words,

    • 10:22

      CONSTANCE IMBAULT [continued]: so these are words that men and women rateas having a similar valence.And so we see that men are in one category.They're closer to all words overall.And females responding as a female, females respondingas a male, and males responding as a femaleare all essentially the exact same line.So this is a point where males are essentially

    • 10:44

      CONSTANCE IMBAULT [continued]: getting it bang on exactly where females are responding,and females, again, are unaffected by the genderof the mannequin.And now we can look at male words,so these again are words that malesrated as being more positive.So males are closer to all words,and females are further away from all words.

    • 11:04

      CONSTANCE IMBAULT [continued]: If we look at how females are responding as a male, whichis the pinkish red line, we see that this is reallythe only instance where females are somewhataffected by the gender of the mannequin that they're moving.So they still aren't approaching negative words as muchas males do, so we can see that on the left sideBut if we look on the right side of the screen,

    • 11:25

      CONSTANCE IMBAULT [continued]: we see that the red line is coming closer to positive wordsthat males rate as being more positive.So there's at least some sort of awarenessthat females are picking up on in just this certain setof words.And again, we see that males responding as a femaleare understanding that females don'twant to be close to these words, and so they are avoiding them

    • 11:46

      CONSTANCE IMBAULT [continued]: overall.OK, so it kind of-- these results kindof went in the exact opposite direction as to our hypothesis.So we assumed-- and through all the literature,we constantly see that females have better theory of mind.Females are more empathetic, so whyare we seeing that males have this awareness that females

    • 12:09

      CONSTANCE IMBAULT [continued]: don't really seem to have?So we have two separate reasons whywe think this might have been.The first is a methodological reason,and then the second is some sort of psychological reasonbehind this.So I don't know if you picked up on it,but these were our instructions.And so the main part here that we

    • 12:30

      CONSTANCE IMBAULT [continued]: think there might be a problem isthat it says place it where you would want that personto be in relation to the word.And so this is quite prescriptive.We're kind of telling the participantswhere do you want a man to be?Where you want a woman to be?And so we're not really getting into the empathetic natureof what we intended this experiment to look at.

    • 12:53

      CONSTANCE IMBAULT [continued]: So we are changing the instructionsto position the person where you thinkhe or she would prefer to be.And so this is hopefully going to tapinto some sort of empathy, and we mightsee some different results.As well there could be some psychological reasonsthat, again, we missed in our first round of the experiment.

    • 13:14

      CONSTANCE IMBAULT [continued]: So our question is do we think that maleshave better theory of minds than females,and are females more-- are males more empathetic than females?And I'm not necessarily going to say that,because there's tons of literature out therethat says that that's not what we believe.So in our data, we didn't differentiate

    • 13:37

      CONSTANCE IMBAULT [continued]: between sex and gender, and so that might be a problemand we can fix that going forward.So the first thing we can do is you can use gender conformityskills, so in this way we can capturethe gender of the participant rather than the sex.Because as we all know, gender is quite fluidwhereas sex is categorical.And so maybe if people aren't conforming with their gender,

    • 13:59

      CONSTANCE IMBAULT [continued]: they might be responding differently.As well we can look at theory of mind and empathy skills,so maybe somehow our subset of males were more empatheticand had better theory of mind than the average population.And as well, we hope to look into doing the same sortof study but with different races and ages,

    • 14:20

      CONSTANCE IMBAULT [continued]: so how different races treat each otherand how maybe a younger population would treat an olderpopulation and vice versa.Thank you.[APPLAUSE][MUSIC PLAYING]

Gender Differences in Emotional Empathy

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Unique ID: bd-psych-conf-gdiee-AA04077


Dr. Victor Kuperman and his student, Constance Imbault, present their research into how men and women react to different linguistic stimuli. Women and men rate different words as positive and negative. But can they accurately predict how the other gender would rate words?

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Gender Differences in Emotional Empathy

Dr. Victor Kuperman and his student, Constance Imbault, present their research into how men and women react to different linguistic stimuli. Women and men rate different words as positive and negative. But can they accurately predict how the other gender would rate words?

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