Sex differences in emotion recognition ability: The mediating role of trait emotional awareness

Ron Wright, Robert Riedel, Lee Sechrest, Richard D. Lane, Ryan Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Although previous research on emotion recognition ability (ERA) has found consistent evidence for a female advantage, the explanation for this sex difference remains incompletely understood. This study compared males and females on four emotion recognition tasks, using a community sample of 379 adults drawn from two regions of the United States (stratified with respect to age, sex, and socioeconomic status). Participants also completed the Levels of Emotional Awareness Scale (LEAS), a measure of trait emotional awareness (EA) thought to primarily reflect individual differences in emotion concept learning. We observed that individual differences in LEAS scores mediated the relationship between sex and ERA; in addition, we observed that ERA distributions were noticeably non-normal, and that—similar to findings with other cognitive performance measures—males had more variability in ERA than females. These results further characterize sex differences in ERA and suggest that these differences may be explained by differences in EA—a trait variable linked primarily to early learning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-160
Number of pages12
JournalMotivation and Emotion
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018


  • Emotion recognition
  • Emotional awareness
  • Non-normal statistical distributions
  • Perception
  • Sex differences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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