For a study by the University of Cambridge, more than 300,000 people from 57 countries were asked to use pictures of a face to describe in one word how the person depicted feels. The worldwide results of the so-called "Eyes Test" showed that women actually did better than men. In 36 countries, women were ahead of men, and in 21 countries, both sexes were roughly equal. In no country did men perform better than women. It is also interesting that young people were particularly emphatic. Empathy decreased slightly in adulthood.
dr David Greenberg, the study's lead scientist, said: "Our findings are one of the first evidence that the well-known phenomenon that women are, on average, more empathetic than men can be observed in a variety of countries around the world."
On the one hand, the results are not surprising. They confirm the impression of earlier studies with smaller numbers of participants. On the other hand, they amaze. In Europe, for example, the empathy advantage of women is small. In the richer and freer democracies, the lines are blurring. In Great Britain, Switzerland, Australia and Denmark there was the smallest difference between men and women. In countries like Saudi Arabia, women were consistently more empathetic.
"We found that gender differences in the Eyes Test were more pronounced in some countries than others. Our country-level analyzes suggest that female advantage in the Eyes Test is related to various country-specific characteristics such as collectivism ", says Dr. Greenberg.
Incidentally, the results cannot be transferred to the level of individuals. Single men are always very good at empathizing with others, and single women totally lack this ability.
The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
Sources: Eurekalert!; PNAS