Recent research conducted by experts from the University of Bath, Cardiff, and London has revealed that women are better at mentalizing/mind-reading as compared to men.
Psychology as a stream always brings us to explore the new dynamics of the human mind. Research and studies have equipped the experts to nothing less than see through an individual’s thought process and the whole mechanism up there. Recent research unfurls one such an interesting aspect of human psychology – the ability to read minds.
Psychology experts from the University of Bath, Cardiff, and London have designed an intriguing set of questions known as the ‘mind-reading questionnaire‘. The objective is to evaluate how efficiently people understand what others are thinking. And apparently, women have turned out to be better at mind-reading in comparison to men.
Mentalizing, commonly referred to as mind-reading, is the ability of an individual to identify the subtle behavioral hints, that help us in understanding what they are thinking of without mentioning it. While every individual has different capacities of mentalizing, some are genetically more capable than others. These differences can pose serious challenges, particularly to those who are autistic, thus making them more vulnerable to social exclusion.
To provide socially challenged people such as those having autism with adequate support, a new mind-reading test has been developed, by collecting data from 4000 autistic and non-autistic people from the US and the UK. The scores of the four-stepped questionnaire were evaluated on a scale of 4 to 16, wherein scoring 4 meant poor abilities to read minds, whereas 16 meant greater abilities. The average score would range from 12 to 13. The outcomes showed that in comparison to males, females indicated better mind-reading abilities.
“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”said Dr Punit Shah who is the senior author of this study alongside being a social cognitive processing expert at the University of Bath’s psychology department.
The difference between mind-reading and empathy
Dr Shah explained the significance of differentiating mind reading from empathy saying that mind-reading is understanding what others are ‘thinking‘ whereas empathy is understanding what others are ‘feeling‘. Although there’s just a silver lining between the two, distinct brain networks are involved in the process. The distinction was significantly considered while conducting the study and hence the team is assured about the accuracy of results that showed females to be more able than men in reading minds.
While focusing on the clinical significance of the questionnaire, Rachael Clutterbuck, who has worked as the lead researcher in the study pointed out that “It is not always obvious if someone is experiencing difficulties understanding and responding to others—and many people have learned techniques which can reduce the appearance of social difficulties, even though these remain.”
She also explained further that the research will help in determining the challenges with mild-reading, as in the case of autistic people.
Dr Punit Shah explained that the study is not just about mind-reading, but also about designing solutions for people who face challenges, especially those having autism.
“We have created a freely available questionnaire which we hope can help identify people who are experiencing mental difficulties relevant to social situations,” he added.
Feel free to access the questionnaire http://www.bitly.com/mindreadingquestions.