Social class, sex, and the ability to recognize emotions: The main effect is in the interaction

S.A. Brener*, Willem Frankenhuis, E.S. Young, Bruce J. Ellis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Previous research has demonstrated an inverse relation between subjective social class (SSC) and performance on emotion recognition tasks. Study 1 (N = 418) involved a preregistered replication of this effect using the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Task and the Cambridge Mindreading Face-Voice Battery. The inverse relation replicated; however, exploratory analyses revealed a significant interaction between sex and SSC in predicting emotion recognition, indicating that the effect was driven by males. In Study 2 (N = 745), we preregistered and tested the interaction on a separate archival dataset. The interaction replicated; the association between SSC and emotion recognition again occurred only in males. Exploratory analyses (Study 3; N = 381) examined the generalizability of the interaction to incidental face memory. Our results underscore the need to reevaluate previous research establishing the main effects of social class and sex on emotion recognition abilities, as these effects apparently moderate each other.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Early online date4 Apr 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 Apr 2023


  • emotion recognition
  • sex differences
  • social class
  • social cognition


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