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Archive for December 4th, 2007

If men and women report equal levels of happiness, why do women experience more depression than men?

Researchers think the answer might be related to intensity of emotions and the roles women play in society.

According to researchers, women, on average, are more likely than men to report “higher levels of positive affect.” That is, they experience more intense positive emotions, which seem to balance out the negative emotions. And because women women are more likely to be open to intense emotional experiences, one theory suggests that this intensity makes them more vulnerable to depression if they encounter bad or uncontrollable events.

Another explanation revolves around the traditional role as caregiver that’s typically prescribed to women. The theory goes — since caregivers are expected to be more emotionally responsive, women may be more willing to express those emotions. In fact, regardless of a person’s gender, in experiments where participants were encouraged to be emotionally responsive, those same participants indicated more extreme emotions.

In other words, women are just as happy as men — only more so in the extreme.

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