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Sex differences in emotional and behavioral responses to HIV+ individuals' expression of distress

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Two studies examined the influence of HIV+ individual's expression of distress on perceivers' emotional and behavioral reactions. In Study 1 (N = 224), HIV+ individual's expression of distress was experimentally manipulated by means of vignettes. Men and women reacted differently when persons with HIV conveyed distress: women reported stronger feelings of pity, whereas men reported stronger feelings of anger. Study 2 (N = 136) replicated this study in a realistic experimental setting with additional behavioral measures. Similarly, women reported stronger pro-social behavior than men when confronted with a person with HIV who conveyed distress. Results of the present study shed additional light to the self-presentational dilemma of ill persons. Conveying moderate levels of distress may evoke pro-social responses in women, but not in men.
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Keywords: AIDS; HIV; distress; emotion; sex differences; stigma

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Erasmus University Rotterdam and The Netherlands Open University, The Netherlands 2: Maastricht University, The Netherlands 3: University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Publication date: May 1, 2007

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