Most studies that look at this issue come away concluding that, yes, women are “more emotional,” but the reasons for that conclusion vary quite widely. As with so many issues in the politically charged arena of gender distinctions, the answer to “why” depends upon whom you ask.

In general, feminists in the social sciences will tell you that no, women are not inherently more emotional than men, arguing that any observable differences in how men and women react emotionally is due entirely to socialization. In other words, they say, women act more emotionally because we’re taught to. That is the basic conclusion with studies such as Are Women the ‘More Emotional’ Sex? Evidence from Emotional Experiences in Social Context, by four female research psychologists—Lisa Feldman Barrett from Boston College; Lucy Robin of Indiana University; Paula R. Pietromonaco of Univ. of Massachusetts at Amherst; and Kristen M. Eyssell of The Pennsylvania State University.

Neurobiologists, meanwhile, are more apt to attribute differences in our emotionality to brain structure and emotional hard wiring, and evolution. This is the conclusion reached by scholars such as Larry Cahill, a professor of Neurobiology and and Behavior at the University of California, Irvine. Cahill’s research has found that the emotional wiring of men’s brains and women’s brains is fundamentally different. Modern technology is allowing for the observation of actual brain structures and response to stimuli and suggests very strongly that it is not merely socialization that makes men and women behave differently, but rather, evolutionary biology.