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Study Verifies Women Perform Higher on “Eyes Test”

— January 27, 2023

Women are more apt to accurately read the emotions of others than their male counterparts.

In a new study conducted with 300,000 people in 57 different countries, evidence suggests that females perform better in the Eyes Test and have higher amounts of empathy towards other people.  This Eyes Test had been previously created to understand the mental states of people by asking participants to pick out words to describe how another person is thinking or feeling based primarily on a photo.

In the current study, the following questions were posed: Is there an age-related and sex-related Eyes Test score difference? And, if so, are those differences consistent across nations? Other factors, including cognitive and socioeconomic factors were also taken into consideration. 

Previous research sought to use the Eyes test to study similar theories. However, each of the prior studies had been conducted on small samples that didn’t have much diversity. Participants were relatively close in geography, age, and culture. With these limitations, it was hard to apply the results to a larger population.

Study Verifies Women Perform Higher on "Eyes Test"
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

In previous studies, females, on average, also performed higher on the Eyes Test than their male counterparts. The aim of this study was to observe whether the results from the previous Eyes Tests still hold true for a larger sample of diverse participants, thus making the results more reliable.

Across 57 countries, it was found that females scored higher than males in 36 of those countries. In the remaining 21 countries, females scored similarly to males. There were not any countries where males scored significantly higher than females. Overall, 48% of the participants were women and 62% of the participants were United States residents. The age range of participants was 16 to 70., and 16 of the tested countries used non-English testing, where 12 out of the 16 countries showed a female on-average advantage in the scoring despite all extraneous variables being considered.

In the female group, there were the highest scores among ages 16 through 20. In the male group, ages 16 through 21 showed the highest Eyes Test scores. 

The female on-average advantage has been found through several different versions of the Eyes Test and has now been supported across countries and diverse groups. There were no instances of any male group scoring significantly higher than the female group.

It is suggested that females have this advantage due to both biological and social factors. For example, the female population is raised to be nurturing and caring to best support the raising of children and developing meaningful relationships. 

Biological studies of females have shown that they have an enhanced ability to perceive small details such as color differences or facial expressions. This can be correlated to the biological need of being able to tell what is safe or what is not safe.  The results of the large study have also shown that many people struggle with telling facial differences, in general. This observation was found in both the male and female sample groups and may warrant further investigation.


Study finds an On-Average Higher Female Performance on the Theory of Mind “Eyes Test”

Females on average perform better than males on a ‘theory of mind’ test across 57 countries, new study suggests

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