Sex Roles

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Gender Comparisons in Mother-Child Emotion Talk: A Meta-Analysis

  • Ana AznarEmail author
  • Harriet R. Tenenbaum
Original Article


Mother-child emotion talk is one of the main ways through which children learn about emotions. Some previous research studies have suggested that mother-child emotion talk is a gendered process, influencing how girls and boys talk about emotions. Despite inconsistent findings in establishing if mothers use different amounts of emotion talk with their daughters and sons, there is no known meta-analysis of the literature examining gender differences in the frequency of mother-child emotion talk. The aim of this comprehensive meta-analysis is to explore gender comparisons in the frequency of mother-child emotion talk as well as the moderators of these differences. Based on 34 independent group samples (samples of unique individuals) consisting of 3649 participants, no gender differences in the frequency of emotion talk between mothers of daughters and mothers of sons were found. Using a random-effects model, the meta-analysis had a mean weighted effect size of Cohen’s d = .04 (95% CI = [−.05, .13], p = .36). It was not heterogeneous, Qw (33) = 39.36, p = .21. Thus, findings of the present meta-analysis suggest that mother-child emotion talk has not been shown to be gendered, which has implications for children’s socialization of emotions.


Mother-child Emotion talk Gender differences Meta-analysis 



The authors would like to thank Oliver Crenol and Hannah Piggott for their help with this project. We would also like to thank the authors who took time from their busy schedules to respond to our request for information to include in the present meta-analysis.

Supplementary material

11199_2019_1042_MOESM1_ESM.docx (39 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 39 kb)


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of WinchesterWinchesterUK
  2. 2.School of PsychologyUniversity of SurreyGuildfordUK

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