In 57 Nations, Women Outscore Men on Empathy, 57-0

Largest study of its kind confirms the point
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 27, 2022 8:32 AM CST
Sorry, Guys, Women Get Empathy Better Than You Do
   (Getty / fizkes)

The largest study of its kind has confirmed what researchers—and probably most people—already suspected: Women are more empathetic than men. The study out of the University of Cambridge and published in PNAS had 300,000 people from 57 countries take a particular test: Participants looked at photos of people around their eyes and tried to gauge how they were feeling, per CNN. Women did significantly better than men in 36 countries and better by smaller margins in the other 21—meaning that in no nation did men perform better on what's known as the Reading the Mind in the Eyes test, reports Canada Today.

“Our results provide some of the first evidence that the well-known phenomenon—that females are on average more empathic than males—is present in wide range of countries across the globe,” says lead researcher David M. Greenberg. The findings held true across all age ranges in the survey, from 16 to 70, though researchers generally noticed a "shallow decline" in empathy as people age, for reasons that are unclear. (Hormonal changes may be a factor.) Researchers also detected a pattern: Women tended to outperform men by bigger margins in nations that are more "state-oriented," with less focus on individualism, notes the Telegraph. In other words, the gap between the genders is larger in, say, Saudi Arabia, than in the US.

The study measured what's known as cognitive empathy. In defining this, the Telegraph quotes the fictional Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird as saying that you can't really know a person "until you climb into his skin and walk around in it." CNN has a more technical take, defining cognitive empathy as when "a person is intellectually able to understand what someone else might be thinking or feeling, and they are even able to use that knowledge to predict how the person will act or feel going forward." (Read more discoveries stories.)

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