Study finds women can ‘read minds’ better than men – and you can take the quiz

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Many men often wonder what it is that women want.

But it seems like women don't need to worry as much as, according to new research, they can read minds better than their male counterparts.

Psychologists at the University of Bath say humans can “mind read” – and say women are better at it than men.

Mind reading is when a person understands what someone else is thinking or assume it without actually having to ask them.

This usually involves picking up on behavioural cues and body language to assess whether someone is not saying what they are really thinking.

For example, a person could notice that their partner is feeling sad without them have to say so, just by watching how they are acting.

Most people mind read to an extent in daily life, but not everyone is – especially people with autism who may struggle to form relationships or communicate with people.

Dr Punit Shah, senior author of the study for Bath, said: “We will all undoubtedly have had experiences where we have felt we have not connected with other people we are talking to, where we've perceived that they have failed to understand us, or where things we've said have been taken the wrong way.

“Much of how we communicate relies on our understanding of what others are thinking, yet this is a surprisingly complex process that not everyone can do.”

He said that mind-reading refers to understanding what other people are thinking, and is different to empathy – which is understanding what others are feeling.

“The difference might seem subtle but is critically important and involves very different brain networks,” he added.

Senior author Dr Lucy Livingston, from Cardiff University’s School of Psychology, also commented: “The ability to understand other people’s minds is really important for successful social interaction among humans.

“However, so far we know very little about why some people are particularly good at – or struggle with – mind-reading."

Take the 'mind reading' quiz

1. I find it easy to put myself in somebody else's shoes

Strongly disagree (1 point) Slightly disagree (2 points) Slightly agree (3 points) Strongly agree (4 points)

2. I sometimes find it difficult to see things from other people's point of view

Strongly disagree (4 points )Slightly disagree (3 points) Slightly agree (2 points) Strongly agree (1 point)

3. I sometimes try to understand my friends better by imagining how things look from their perspective

Strongly disagree (1 point) Slightly disagree (2 points) Slightly agree (3 points) Strongly agree (4 point)

4. I can usually understand another person’s viewpoint, even if it differs from my own

Strongly disagree (1 point) Slightly disagree (2 points) Slightly agree (3 points) Strongly agree (4 point)

What your score means

10 or below: You have difficulty understanding what other people are thinking. You probably struggle to understand and respond to others in social situations, especially when there are many people around.

Between 11 and 14: You have average or statistically 'normal' understanding of what others are thinking. Most people will score 12. You might sometimes struggle to understand others, but you are usually able to understand and respond to others in social situations.

15 or above: You are well above average, and have a strong understanding of what others are thinking. You are likely to have good social skills, even in situations involving several people.

The university team put together four-part quiz that asks people how easy they find it to “put themselves in someone else's shoes”.

They used 4,000 people, with and without autism, to test the quiz.

Result saw scores range from 4 to 16 = with 4 indicating poor mind-reading abilities and 16 indicating excellent abilities.

The average score for their quiz was between 12 and 13, but But the researchers found that females reported better mind-reading than males, with an average score of 12.6 compared with 12.1.

The survey was self-reporting though, meaning it is not entirely reliable as it uses people's own perceptions of themselves.

It also confirmed those who have autism find it harder to read what people are thinking.

Rachel Clutterbuck, the lead author of the study, said the one-minute quiz could lead to better support for people with difficulties understanding others’ thoughts.

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She said: “It is not always obvious if someone is experiencing difficulties understanding and responding to others – and many people have learnt techniques which can reduce the appearance of social difficulties, even though these remain.”

Dr. Shah added: "This research has been about understanding more about our mind-reading abilities and providing solutions to those who might struggle, particularly the autistic community.

“We have created a freely available questionnaire which we hope can help identify people who are experiencing mental difficulties relevant to social situations."

  • Science

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