In a new study, published in the journal Psychological Assessment, researchers from the University of Bath, Cardiff and London (United Kingdom) report that they have developed a simple method to assess the ability of a person to “read minds”, or at least to guess the thoughts of others.
This questionnaire, which changes the extent to which one understands what other people really think, thus revealed that women seem much more skilled than men at putting themselves in other’s shoes and guessing their thoughts. A capacity which consists in particular of pick up subtle behavioral cues, what is commonly called non-verbal communication.
The researchers set up a “mind-reading” questionnaire and recruited more than 4,000 people to answer it. Some had an autism spectrum disorder, others did not.
The test consisted of four questions, which had to be answered with “strongly disagree ”,“ disagree ”,“ somewhat agree ” and “Totally agree”. The questions were as follows:
- “It is easy for me to put myself in other people’s shoes”;
- “It is difficult for me to see things from another person’s point of view”;
- “Sometimes I try to understand my friends better by seeing things from their perspective”;
- “I can easily understand someone else’s point of view even if it is different from mine”.
Psychologists then not only found that women reported better mind-reading skills than their male counterparts, but they also rediscovered the difficulties experienced by autistic people, who often struggle with non-verbal communication and social behaviors.
“We have all undoubtedly had experiences where we felt we were not connected to the people we were talking to, where we perceived that they did not understand us, or that the things we had said had been wrong. taken. Much of the way we communicate relies on our understanding of what others think, but it is a surprisingly complex process that not everyone understands”, Commented Dr. Punit Shah, lead author of the study. He specifies that the team was careful to separate empathy, consisting of understanding what the other is feeling, from mind-reading, which consists of glimpsing what the other is thinking.
“We have created a free questionnaire that we hope can help identify people who are experiencing mental difficulties related to social situations.”, And“provide them with techniques to [les] reduce”, The researchers concluded.