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Love Knows No Gender Difference
Date:7/31/2012

By Barbara Bronson Gray
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, July 31 (HealthDay News) -- Think married men and women show their love in vastly different ways? Not necessarily.

Although popular culture reinforces the stereotype that there's a gender gap when it comes to expressing affection, few studies have actually tested the notion.

A small new study suggests, however, that men are just as likely as women to be openly affectionate. The study, which also identified some differences between the sexes, was published recently in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

"Men and women are actually more similar in the ways they express love than they are different," said study author Elizabeth Schoenfeld, a researcher at the University of Texas in Austin. "But we also learned that, even in the wake of feminism, wives express love by being less assertive and more accommodating, while husbands show love by initiating sex or sharing activities together."

The study involved 168 couples in first marriages living in rural central Pennsylvania. Data was collected in initial interviews, followed by telephone interviews in which husbands and wives separately reported activities and interactions. The interviews occurred within two months of when each couple was married and then annually, with a final set of interviews conducted after 13 years of marriage.

At the conclusion of the study, 105 of the original couples were still married, three were widowed and 56 were divorced. Almost all of the participants were white, and more than half had a high school education.

Contrary to some common gender stereotypes, the research showed that the more men loved their wives, the more likely they were to be affectionate. They were also more likely to involve their spouses in their leisure activities and in household chores. Love did not, however, mean a husband did more chores around the house or was more eag
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