Women are better than men at reading other people
Okay, many of us have suspected this all along, but now it has been confirmed. Women can read and accurately interpret other people's feelings much faster and easier than men can. British researchers have found that males actually do find it harder than females to read other people's emotions.
New research from Edinburgh University has revealed that men take longer than women to evaluate other people's facial expressions - and that our brains have to work twice as hard to make social decisions, such as whether a person seems approachable or not.
For this study, published in the journal PLoS ONE, men and women were shown an assortment of photographs of people's faces, and asked to answer various questions about them. Both men and women were equally able to determine whether the faces in the photos were male or female or how intelligent they seemed. However, when it came to judging emotions things got trickier.
Brain scans of the men in the study indicated a rush of blood to the area of the brain used for interpreting emotions as the male participants found these choices more difficult. And while the men eventually came to the same conclusions as the women, it took them much longer to do so - and they had to work harder to formulate an opinion.
Professor Stephen Lawrie, who headed up the study said that while the experiment gave the men enough time to interpret the facial expressions in the photos, in a real-world experience where decisions about how to act and respond must be made quickly, men would be much more likely to misjudge other people's thoughts.
"Our findings suggest that men have developed strategies to cope with their lesser natural empathy by over-activating the parts of the brain that understand social cues," said Professor Lawrie. "As this pattern is also seen in people with autism-linked conditions, it suggests we could devise new tools to help patients learn social rules and enhance their skills for engaging with other people."
When I mentioned this research to a few coworkers, the women were universally unsurprised while the men seemed to find it more interesting. I think it gives us some scientific cover for those times that we land in hot water for misreading someone's emotional state.
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