PASSIONATE MEN, EMOTIONAL WOMEN: Psychology Constructs Gender Difference in the Late 19th Century

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The author examines British and American scientific psychology's portrayal of natural and ideal masculinity and femininity in the late 19th century to show how purported differences in emotion and reason were critical to explaining the evolutionary foundation of existing social hierarchies. Strong emotion was identified with heterosexual manliness and men's purportedly better capacity to harness the power of emotion in the service of reason. "Feminine" emotion was portrayed as a comparatively ineffectual emotionality, a by-product of female reproductive physiology and evolutionary need to be attractive to men. The author argues that constructions of emotion by psychology served an important power maintenance function. A concluding section addresses the relevance of this history to the politics of emotion in everyday life, especially assertions of emotional legitimacy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)92-110
Number of pages19
JournalHistory of Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2007


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • History
  • Psychology(all)

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