Systematic Reviews
Copyright ©The Author(s) 2015. Published by Baishideng Publishing Group Inc. All rights reserved.
World J Psychiatr. Sep 22, 2015; 5(3): 342-351
Published online Sep 22, 2015. doi: 10.5498/wjp.v5.i3.342
Influence of gender in the recognition of basic facial expressions: A critical literature review
Larissa Forni-Santos, Flávia L Osório
Larissa Forni-Santos, Flávia L Osório, Department of Neuroscience and Behavior, Ribeirão Preto Medical School - São Paulo University, Ribeirão Preto, São Paulo 14051-140, Brazil
Flávia L Osório, National Institute of Technology and Translational Medicine, Porto Alegre 90035-903, Brazil
Author contributions: Forni-Santos L and Osório FL made conception and design of the study, acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data; drafted the article and made critical revisions related to important intellectual content of the manuscript; and approved final version of the article to be published.
Supported by FAPESP - Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo, No. 2012/02260-7.
Conflict-of-interest statement: The authors declare there is no conflict of interest related to this article.
Data sharing statement: Not apply.
Open-Access: This article is an open-access article which was selected by an in-house editor and fully peer-reviewed by external reviewers. It is distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:
Correspondence to: Flávia L Osório, PhD, Department of Neuroscience and Behavior, Ribeirão Preto Medical School - São Paulo University, Avenida Bandeirantes 3900, 3 andar, Monte Alegre, Ribeirão Preto, São Paulo 14051-140, Brazil.
Telephone: +55-16-36022530 Fax: +55-16-36022703
Received: February 23, 2015
Peer-review started: February 25, 2015
First decision: May 14, 2015
Revised: May 26, 2015
Accepted: August 4, 2015
Article in press: August 7, 2015
Published online: September 22, 2015

AIM: To conduct a systematic literature review about the influence of gender on the recognition of facial expressions of six basic emotions.

METHODS: We made a systematic search with the search terms (face OR facial) AND (processing OR recognition OR perception) AND (emotional OR emotion) AND (gender or sex) in PubMed, PsycINFO, LILACS, and SciELO electronic databases for articles assessing outcomes related to response accuracy and latency and emotional intensity. The articles selection was performed according to parameters set by COCHRANE. The reference lists of the articles found through the database search were checked for additional references of interest.

RESULTS: In respect to accuracy, women tend to perform better than men when all emotions are considered as a set. Regarding specific emotions, there seems to be no gender-related differences in the recognition of happiness, whereas results are quite heterogeneous in respect to the remaining emotions, especially sadness, anger, and disgust. Fewer articles dealt with the parameters of response latency and emotional intensity, which hinders the generalization of their findings, especially in the face of their methodological differences.

CONCLUSION: The analysis of the studies conducted to date do not allow for definite conclusions concerning the role of the observer’s gender in the recognition of facial emotion, mostly because of the absence of standardized methods of investigation.

Keywords: Facial, Face, Perception, Recognition, Sex, Expression

Core tip: In this systematic review we found that results on the influence of the observers’ gender on the recognition of basic facial expressions of emotion as examined in respect to accuracy, latency, and emotional intensity are inconclusive, despite a small tendency for women to perform better than men in general emotion recognition. This can be partly explained by the wide variation in the methods used in the studies. We highlight the need for standardized procedures to be used in facial emotion recognition tasks. Otherwise, inconsistencies in the final results of these studies will continue to exist.