Men Can’t Read Emotions

As suspected, men struggle to determine what women are feeling, according to a study published recently in PLOS One.

We’ve heard the eyes are the windows to the soul and are the doorways to emotion, but they might as well be closed if you are a woman because German researchers found men had twice as much trouble reading and understanding the subtle emotions reflected in women than they did in men when looking into their eyes.

Part of the male brain associated with emotion is inactive when looking into the eyes of a woman, showing there is a complete biological lack of trying. LWL-University Hospital in Bochum, Germany researcher Boris Schiffer scanned 22 men between the ages of 21 to 52 (average age of 36) using a functional magnetic resonance imaging unit (fMRI).

The subjects thoroughly examined pictures of 36 pairs of eyes – half male, half female – and were asked to assess and describe the emotions conveyed. Using a limit of two words, participants reviewed and defined photographs depicting eight positive, sixteen neutral, and twelve negative emotions.

Men took longer and had significantly more trouble guessing the correct corresponding emotion when assessing the pictures of women’s eyes in contrast to men’s eyes. In addition, the fMRI reflected a lack of brain activity within the the empathy network of the amygdala, a region associated with distinguishing emotion.

When looking into the eyes of the opposite sex, without the obvious signs of distress such as tears, men are virtually incapable of perceiving the corresponding emotion based on the study.

Researchers were unable to determine exactly why this is. It was suggested the reason why men have difficulty properly evaluating non-verbal emotional cues in the eyes is because men are culturally conditioned to pay less attention, according to Live Science.

Another possibility may be because of evolution – as it is important to predict or foresee the intentions and action in male rivals. Therefore men register the emotional conveyance of their same sex examples more accurately as part of their survival instincts. If only they realized it was as equally essential for their survival that they be able to read the eyes of their girlfriend or wife.

[Image via Shutterstock]