New research suggests the conversations mothers have with their daughters tend to contain more emotional words and content than the conversations they have with their sons.
Investigators surmise this learned emotional sensitivity will aid females as gender equity expands in the workforce.
UK researchers from the University of Surrey also found that as mothers use more emotional words than fathers, they are also unconsciously reinforcing gender stereotypes to their children.
Investigators believe the findings may explain why women are generally more emotionally intelligent than men.
The study has been published in The British Journal of Developmental Psychology.
The novel study involved 65 Spanish mothers and fathers and their four and six year-old children participating in a storytelling task and discussing past experiences.
Researchers examined their use of language and the number of words associated with emotion. Daughters were found to display a higher level of emotional literacy than boys with words such as ‘happy’, ‘sad’, and ‘worried’ used frequently.
“Our study suggests that parent-child conversations are gendered, with mothers talking more expressively to their daughters than their sons,” said lead author Dr Harriet Tenenbaum.
“This inevitably leads to girls growing up more attuned to their emotions then boys.
Having this edge to be more expressive and cope well with emotions may matter more than ever in the workplace, as more companies are starting to recognize the advantages of high emotional intelligence when it comes to positions such as sales, teams, and leadership.”
Source: University of Surrey/EurekAlert