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Women know better than men what other women are thinking and feeling

18 September 2017

If you want to know what a woman is really thinking, ask another woman.

That’s the message of a new study, published in Frontiers in Psychology, which was designed to probe our ability to use other people’s posture, facial expressions and behaviours, as well our interpretations of ambiguous statements, to infer what’s going on in their mind – no matter what they’re actually saying.

The research team, led by Renata Wacker at the Free University of Berlin, Germany, recruited 304 women and 241 men, ranging in age from 17 to 70. The volunteers were put through possibly the most irritating – though potentially clinically useful – movie-watching experience imaginable.

The Movie for the Assessment of Social Cognition is a 15-minute fictional film that focuses on the social interactions between two female and two male middle-aged adults preparing for and getting together for dinner. The film pauses no fewer than forty-five times for the viewer to answer questions about the characters’ thoughts, intentions and emotions. (For example, “What is Cliff thinking?”, “Why is Betty saying this?”, and “What is Michael feeling?”).

Read more on our Research Digest blog.

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