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Male and female managers' ability to read emotions: Relationships with supervisor's performance ratings and subordinates' satisfaction ratings


Correspondence should be addressed to Dr Kristin Byron, Syracuse University, Whitman School of Management, 721 University Avenue, Syracuse, NY 13244, USA (e-mail:


The present study examines the direct and indirect effect of managers' accuracy in ‘reading’ non-verbal emotional expressions and their supervisors' performance ratings and subordinates' satisfaction with the manager. Data from working managers and their supervisors and subordinates were used to test the study's hypotheses. Although managers' accuracy was not directly related to others' ratings, a significant interactive effect was found: Female but not male managers who more accurately perceived non-verbal emotional expressions received higher performance ratings from their supervisor and higher satisfaction ratings from their subordinates, perhaps due to gender stereotypes prescribing emotional sensitivity to female managers. Furthermore, how managers used emotional information to enhance subordinates' satisfaction varied for female and male managers. Results suggested that male managers who were more accurate at emotion perception received higher satisfaction ratings if they used the information to be more persuasive, whereas more emotionally perceptive female managers received higher satisfaction ratings when they demonstrated more supportiveness.