Study: Men Struggle to Read Emotions in Women’s Eyes
Ladies: Do you often feel misunderstood by men? Do they fail to pick up on fairly obvious nonverbal signals, such as expressions of fear or disgust? Newly published research suggests your perception is entirely valid—but it’s not his fault.
A study from Germany finds that men do a much better job of interpreting one vital set of signals—the emotions conveyed by the eyes—when they’re communicating with another man, compared to another woman.
“The finding that men are superior in recognizing emotions/mental states of other men, as compared to women, might be surprising,” a research team led by psychiatrist Boris Schiffer reports in the journal PLOS ONE. They add, however, that it makes considerable sense in evolutionary terms.
Their study involved 22 single men between the ages of 21 and 52. While their brains were scanned using fMRI technology, participants took a test in which they looked at 36 pairs of eyes and chose between two terms (such as “distrustful” or “terrified”) to best describe the mental/emotional state of the person pictured. Half the pairs belonged to men, half to women.