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Gender Differences In Facial Reactions To Facial Expressions

U. Dimberg, Lars-Olov Lundquist
Published 1990 · Psychology, Medicine

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This study explored whether males and females differ in facial muscle reactivity when exposed to facial expressions. The study also examined whether the sex of the stimulus faces differentially influences the response patterns to facial stimuli. Thus, the sex was manipulated in a 2 x 2 factorial design by exposing males and females to slides of angry and happy faces displayed by both sexes. Facial electromyographic (EMG) activity was measured from the corrugator and zygomatic muscle regions. The subjects were also required to rate the stimuli on different dimensions. The results showed that angry faces evoked increased corrugator activity whereas happy faces evoked increased zygomatic activity. As predicted, these effects were more pronounced for females, particularly for the response to happy faces. Interestingly, there were no facial EMG effects for gender of stimulus. It was further found that males and females perceived the stimuli similarly. The results are consistent with previous findings indicating that females are more facially reactive than are males.
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