It’s no secret that some men can have trouble accessing their emotions.
A new study, published in the journal Translational Psychiatry, may vindicate women who sometimes feel that their boyfriend just doesn’t seem to understand them.
The research, conducted by Cambridge University, confirmed that men really are less empathetic than women. It defines empathy as the ability to relate to things that other people, especially those in different circumstances to you, may be feeling.
Despite years of research, the scientific reasons for some people being more empathetic than others remain largely unknown.
For this landmark investigation, researchers turned to genetics for an answer. To do so, they painstakingly analysed the DNA of nearly 47,000 people to discover possible links between how well they performed on an empathy test and genetic variations.
Though the researchers found that women scored ten points higher on the empathy test than men on average, they discovered no genetic basis for these differences.
Varun Warrier, a doctoral student in neuroscience who lead the study, said:
Genetically, men and women seem identical, but there is a difference in the empathy score which is quite significant. The highest possible score in the EQ test is 80. We saw that men score, on average, 40, and women score, on average, 50.
It's not clear why men have less empathy than women.
But Warrier suggests that social factors can contribute to a person’s empathy levels, adding that society generally expects female children to be more understanding and in tune with their emotions.
So it would appear that, in terms of empathy, men and women really are from different planets, but not even scientists can tell us why.