Is She Angry? (Sexually Desirable) Women “See” Anger on Female Faces

Jaimie Arona Krems, Steven Neuberg, Gabrielle Filip-Crawford, Douglas Kenrick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Intrasexual conflict may pose unique challenges for women. Whereas men’s aggression tends to be physical and direct, women’s tends to be relational and indirect, particularly when directed toward other women. Moreover, women’s expressions of anger are often suppressed, perhaps particularly when other women are the targets. Thus, women may face difficulty anticipating anger and anger-based aggression from other women. How might women manage this challenge? The functional projection of emotion may facilitate useful behavior; for instance, “seeing” anger on people believed to pose threats to physical safety may help perceivers preempt or avoid physical harm. Given the threats that women face, we predicted that (a) women are biased to “see” anger on neutral female (but not male) faces and that (b) women who are likely targets of intrasexual aggression (i.e., sexually desirable or available women) show an exaggerated bias. We report three studies that support these hypotheses and, more broadly, illustrate the value of a functional approach to social cognition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1655-1663
Number of pages9
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2015


  • aggression
  • emotion
  • evolutionary psychology
  • sex differences
  • social cognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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