Jan. 3, 2023 -- For anyone who’s ever said that females are better than males at understanding how other people feel, a new study has arrived to confirm that common view.

This is true at any age and in any country, according to the huge study published in the journal PNAS.

Researchers at Cambridge, Harvard, IMT School for Advanced Studies in Italy, and Bar-Ilan University, and Haifa University in Israel used an online test – known as the “Eyes Test” --  to measure empathetic reactions of more than 300,000 people from 16 to 70 in 57 countries.

Women scored higher in measures of cognitive empathy – the extent to which a person can understand another’s emotions and take on another’s perspective to understand their feelings.

“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 a wide range of countries across the globe. It’s only by using very large data sets that we can say this with confidence,” David Greenberg, a psychologist and social neuroscientist at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University and lead author on the study, said in Fortune.

Participants looked at photos of people’s eyes and then tried to identify the emotion displayed. Previous research also indicated that females are more empathetic. It’s still unknown why this appears to be so, and researchers called on continued exploration to understand the difference.

Show Sources

PNAS: “Sex and age differences in ‘theory of mind across 57 countries using the English version of the ‘Reading the Mind in the Eyes’ Test.”


Fortune: “Women are more empathetic than men, study of hundreds of thousands of people finds—at any age and in any country in the world”



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