about the episode
Cognitive empathy, or “theory of mind,” is the ability to recognize the feelings of others and evaluate their point of view. The test that is often taken to determine how well someone can do it is eye test. Subjects are shown pictures of people’s eyes only, and then have to choose the word that best describes what the person in the picture is thinking or feeling.
This research has been done before, including among larger groups, but researchers at the University of Cambridge have already taken it far and wide. More than 300,000 people from 57 different countries participated in their study. For the first time, a large number of different races and cultural backgrounds were included, as well as a lot of age differences. These ranged from 16 to 70 years old.
The research is part of a larger investigation into why some people have difficulty assessing the emotions of others and the link to autism, for example. This research resulted in, among other things, that women seem to score much better on the test on average. This has been observed before and fits the idea that women are more empathetic, but it has not been shown in such a large study.
The difference applied to many countries (i.e. 36) and was present across all age groups. In some countries, men and women scored equally on average, but in no country did men score higher on average.
And yes: you can say: why the comparison between male and female? Is this time still? What does this say about the individual? But understanding the biological and environmental factors that play a role in whether or not you can feel for others—and demonstrating with certainty that these factors have an influence—remains important in helping and understanding people with social disorders.
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