Sex and age differences in "theory of mind" across 57 countries using the English version of the "Reading the Mind in the Eyes" Test.
Gajos, Krzysztof Z
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
MetadataShow full item record
Greenberg, D. M., Warrier, V., Abu-Akel, A., Allison, C., Gajos, K. Z., Reinecke, K., Rentfrow, P. J., et al. (2023). Sex and age differences in "theory of mind" across 57 countries using the English version of the "Reading the Mind in the Eyes" Test.. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2022385119
The "Reading the Mind in the Eyes" Test (Eyes Test) is a widely used assessment of "theory of mind." The NIMH Research Domain Criteria recommends it as one of two tests for "understanding mental states." Previous studies have demonstrated an on-average female advantage on the Eyes Test. However, it is unknown whether this female advantage exists across the lifespan and across a large number of countries. Thus, we tested sex and age differences using the English version of the Eyes Test in adolescents and adults across 57 countries. We also tested for associations with sociodemographic and cognitive/personality factors. We leveraged one discovery dataset (N = 305,726) and three validation datasets (Ns = 642; 5,284; and 1,087). The results show that: i) there is a replicable on-average female advantage in performance on the Eyes Test; ii) performance increases through adolescence and shallowly declines across adulthood; iii) the on-average female advantage is evident across the lifespan; iv) there is a significant on-average female advantage in 36 out of 57 countries; v) there is a significant on-average female advantage on translated (non-English) versions of the Eyes Test in 12 out of 16 countries, as confirmed by a systematic review; vi) D-scores, or empathizing-systemizing, predict Eyes Test performance above and beyond sex differences; and vii) the female advantage is negatively linked to "prosperity" and "autonomy," and positively linked to "collectivism," as confirmed by exploratory country-level analyses. We conclude that the on-average female advantage on the Eyes Test is observed across ages and most countries.
age differences, cognitive empathy, cross-cultural, reading the mind in the eyes, sex differences, Adult, Adolescent, Humans, Male, Female, Sex Characteristics, Eye, Empathy
DMG was funded in part by the Zuckerman STEM Leadership Program. SBC received funding from the Wellcome Trust 214322\Z\18\Z. For the purpose of Open Access, the author has applied a CC BY public copyright licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising from this submission. The results leading to this publication have received funding from the Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 Joint Undertaking under grant agreement No 777394 for the project AIMS-2-TRIALS. This Joint Undertaking receives support from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and EFPIA and AUTISM SPEAKS, Autistica, SFARI. SBC also received funding from the Autism Centre of Excellence, SFARI, the Templeton World Charitable Fund, the MRC, and the NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre. The research was supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Applied Research Collaboration East of England. All research at the Department of Psychiatry in the University of Cambridge is supported by the NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre (BRC-1215-20014) and NIHR Applied Research Centre. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care. Any views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the funder.
Wellcome Trust (214322/Z/18/Z)
National Institute for Health Research (IS-BRC-1215-20014)
External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2022385119
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/344667
Attribution 4.0 International
Licence URL: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
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