Sexualized Brains

Sexualized Brains

Scientific Modeling of Emotional Intelligence from a Cultural Perspective

Edited by Nicole C. Karafyllis and Gotlind Ulshöfer

The cultural and political implications of research on emotions and recent studies of the “essential difference” in male and female brains and behaviors.

A Bradford Book





The cultural and political implications of research on emotions and recent studies of the “essential difference” in male and female brains and behaviors.

The now-popular idea that emotions have an intelligent core (and the reverse, that intelligence has an emotional core) comes from the neurosciences and psychology. Similarly, the fundamental sexualization of the brain—the new interest in “essential differences” in male and female brains and behaviors—is based on neuroscience research and neuroimages of emotions. In Sexualized Brains, scholars from a range of disciplines reflect on the epistemological claims that emotional intelligence (EI) can be located in the brain and that it is legitimate to attribute distinct kinds of emotions to the biological sexes. The brain, as an icon, has colonized the humanities and social sciences, leading to the emergence of such new disciplines as neurosociology, neuroeconomics, and neurophilosophy. Neuroscience and psychology now have the power to transform not only the practice of science but also contemporary society. These developments, the essays in this volume show, will soon affect the very heart of gender studies. Contributors examine historical views of gender, sex, and elite brains (the influential idea of the “genius”); techniques for representing and measuring emotions and EI (including neuroimaging and pop science); the socioeconomic contexts of debates on elites, EI, and gender and the underlying power of the brain as a model to legitimize social disparities.

ContributorsAnne Bartsch, Carmen Baumeler, Myriam Bechtoldt, Kathrin Fahlenbrach, Malte-Christian Gruber, Michael Hagner, Bärbel Hüsing, Eva Illouz, Nicole C. Karafyllis, Carolyn MacCann, Gerald Matthews, Robert Nye, William Reddy, Richard D. Roberts, Ralf Schulze, Gotlind Ulshöfer, Moshe Zeidner


$52.00 X ISBN: 9780262113175 448 pp. | 7 in x 9 in 11 color illus.


Nicole C. Karafyllis

Nicole C. Karafyllis is Full Professor of Philosophy in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at United Arab Emirates University.

Gotlind Ulshöfer

Gotlind Ulshöfer is a postdoctoral researcher at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University Frankfurt and Program Director for Economics, Business Ethics, and Gender at the Protestant Academy Arnoldshain, Germany.


  • In this scintillating collection of essays, experts drawn from five different countries and nine different academic fields turn their sights and their insights on one of the hottest topics in neuroscience today—emotional intelligence. This is no esoteric tome for dusty scholars: its topic relates and is here painstakingly related to such timeless concerns as male/female difference, the interconnections of biology and gender, the concepts of genius and the elite brain, and the threat to society—and the promise—posed by science. A must-read for anyone interested in people.

    Janet Kourany

    Fellow, John J. Reilly Center for Science, Technology, and Values, University of Notre Dame

  • Karafyllis and Ulshofer have assembled here an international group of experts who grapple with a set of topics not typically brought together for discussion: cognitive and affective neuroscience gender and emotional intelligence. They succeed in distinguishing between 'popular' approaches versus programmatic research at the intersection of these broad areas and in doing so provoke the reader to consider social contexts that determine the research questions receiving serious attention and those that do not. By asking questions about gender differences in brain function and emotional processes Sexualized Brains raises many issues of concern to scholars considering the cultural constraints impinging on scientific progress.

    Peter Salovey

    Chris Argyris Professor of Psychology, Yale University