Emotion and Gender in Personal Narratives

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The Routledge Handbook of Language and Emotion


Talk about the past is a frequent part of everyday conversation. Whether we are chatting about our daily exploits, catching up with friends and family across the miles, or reuniting across the years, we tell stories of what has happened to us and those around us, especially when those experiences are emotional. Indeed, over 90% of daily events that we perceive to be even moderately emotional are shared with others within a day or two of their occurrence (Rimé 2007). Narrating experiences with others helps us evaluate what these experiences mean for understanding ourselves (Fivush and Graci 2017; Ochs and Capps 2009). Provocatively, research demonstrates consistent differences in how women and men narrate their personal experiences, across broad cultural and socioeconomic groups, especially in the linguistic expression of emotion (see Grysman and Hudson 2013 for a review). In this chapter, we explicate a psychological approach to understanding how gender is constructed in everyday narrative interactions that describe personal experiences in particular emotional ways. From this perspective, gender is seen as a process of constructing and understanding of self and others through sharing one's experiences through narrative (Fivush and Grysman 2016; Fivush and Marin 2018). We begin with theoretical definitions of emotion, of gender, and of narrative before describing the research that delineates the sociocultural developmental constrution of gendered ways of narrating one's emotional experiences.


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