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Scientific Proof That Men Just Don’t Get Women – But They Do Get Dogs

Scientific Proof That Men Just Don’t Get Women – But They Do Get Dogs

“Study: Men Struggle to Read Women’s Emotions,” reads a headline at science magazine Discover. Many women out there are probably thinking “duh,” but wait a moment while I add insult to injury: men are good at reading dogs’ emotions. They are more emotionally in tune with dogs than with women.

One could view this as vindication for men. They are innocent of some of the accusations frustrated women throw at them: it’s not that they aren’t paying attention or don’t care. It’s just that they are physiologically impaired.

Scientists say that men do indeed have a hard time understanding women. Recent results show that men have a significantly harder time recognizing women’s emotions than they do men’s and that men seem to use different parts of their brain when ascribing intentions and feelings to women versus men.

Well that’s upsetting. Men use different parts of their brains to think about women’s feelings? No wonder they exclude women from opportunities: women tax the male brain by forcing it to turn on parts that could otherwise keep napping. It’s easier to stay away from women — especially because there is no telling what they are feeling.

While men find women somewhat inscrutable, dogs are more of an open book. A new study shows that people can read dogs’ emotions from their facial expressions. I have no information about which parts of the brain are involved or whether men or women are better at it.

Participants in this study looked at pictures of a dog’s face. The pictures were of one dog, Mal. Researchers did things to make him happy, sad, etc., and took pictures of his expressions. Mal is a police dog, so to make him angry one of the researchers pretended to be a criminal.

Study participants were best at recognizing happiness on Mal’s face, with 88 percent getting it right — compared to men’s average 76% accuracy rate reading women’s emotions. Study subjects also looked at pictures of the dog looking sad, angry, surprised, scared and disgusted (only 13% accuracy on identifying that one).

Lead researcher Dr. Tina Bloom took these results to mean that people are more connected to nature than we think. We can communicate meaningfully with non-human animals.

Bloom also said that “there is no doubt that humans have the ability to recognize emotional states in other humans and accurately read other humans’ facial expressions.” She may want to read up on the latest literature about just how good certain humans are at accurately reading certain other humans’ facial expressions.

Those male humans who made such a lackluster showing at reading women’s expressions didn’t see the women’s whole faces, just their eyes. While in an fMRI machine, the men went through the “Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test.” (A version of this test is available here.) They had to look at a pair of eyes and identify either what emotion they expressed or whether they belonged to a woman or a man. The fMRI machine showed researchers which parts of the brain men used to answer these questions.

Discover reports that study participants “were about equally good at guessing the gender of male and female eyes, but the men did significantly worse at recognizing the emotions of the female eyes.” “Significantly worse” = “twice as many problems in recognizing emotions from female as compared to male eyes,” according to the abstract of the study on Plos One. Plus, it took men longer to come up with a guess about women’s emotions than about men’s.  Men could identify other men’s emotions from their eyes faster and more accurately than women’s emotions.

Neither of these studies produced much information about women’s abilities to read others’ emotions, be they man or beast. Who knows, maybe women can’t read men’s emotions either.

I figured out long ago that men can’t read my mind. Now men’s ability to read their female partners’ faces is also in question. We are running out of means of communication here. There’s nothing left to do — we have to resort to talking to each other.

 

Related Stories:

Men Are From Earth, Women Are From Earth

Women’s IQs Gooder Than Men’s

The Depth of Animal Emotions

 

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Photo credit: Brand X Pictures

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245 comments

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11:36AM PDT on Oct 16, 2013

Maybe it's because humans in general appear more complicated than dogs, and the expectations therein cause more anxiety. Dogs appear to give unconditional love, and humans (men and women both) don't necessarily offer that.

BTW, the twelve percent differential (88 percent accuracy for dogs and 76 for women) isn't enough of a discrepancy to show that men stink at reading women. In most tests, 76 percent is still a passing grade. Thanks for the article, love the comments.

8:00AM PDT on Jun 13, 2013

I was amused

5:31AM PDT on Jun 10, 2013

thanks for sharing :)

2:53PM PDT on May 10, 2013

interesting what about cats?

4:45PM PDT on May 1, 2013

I take a lot of issues with this article. This article and the research which inspired the article, make it appear as though there is something "natural" about men not understanding women. We can never totally tease apart nature from nurture. Might this inability to understand women's emotion stem from centuries of social conditioning which insist that women are foolish, inscrutable and cannot be understood? Also, we know very little about the study population. Were the study subjects single, married, or dating? My boyfriend has very little difficulty reading my emotions. Concurrently, my boyfriend is also incredibly respectful towards women and I cannot help but wonder if ability to read women's faces is potentially related to the extent of a man's respects for a woman. I despise studies such as these because most people do not question how these results were obtained, what was the motivation for publishing this research and then use the results to confirm their current worldview without question.

5:40AM PDT on Apr 29, 2013

I don't really see this as scientific, but it is amusing. I think men understand dogs more easily than women because they are similar in some respects. Men are easy to read, just like dogs in many ways. If we are hungry, it is obvious. If we want physical attention, it is obvious. If we say something, it just means what is said, and there is nothing to read into it.

If a dog wags its tail, it is usually because it is happy to see you. If it barks, it usually means one thing. If a dog is hungry, it will let you know. If a dog wants physical attention, it will let you know.

The dog or man, will not try and keep you guessing and then continually move the target or change their mind. The dog or man will not read more deeply into an issue than is necessary. And the list goes on....

Both sexes are equally intelligent, but they do think in different ways. It is more obvious as you see those differences across cultures. There will be more similarities between the sexes than you ever realized.

2:32AM PDT on Apr 29, 2013

I guess this means that women are from Venus and men are from Sirius.

2:12AM PDT on Apr 29, 2013

thank you for sharing

10:47AM PDT on Apr 28, 2013

Silly stuff...Many, many women are also completely incapable of reading men's emotions, too, although most will never admit it. My husband knows all of my emotions, from my facial expressions, my boss does not. My husband can read people like a book, boss is kinda oblivious to anyone that isn't him.
There is a funny email gong around right now about a woman who is overly concerned because her man is in a bad mood, doesn't want to talk, seems distant, she panics and cooks romantic dinner, has love-fest, and all that other crap we do to cheer our men up. She's convinced he is losing interest in her, blah, blah, blah, and at the very end, the what the man is actually thinking: "Can't believe i missed that putt, should have had a birdie"

12:08PM PDT on Apr 27, 2013

Thank you for the article, Now we will not keep trying to impress men, They will either get us or as they say " they can go to the dogs." What I like about dogs is the unconditional love given and received without asking for any thing in return. With a man if they take you to a movie, a nice dinner, or any thing else on your date they expect something at the end of the night. Our pets just look at us with such love, and trust that it is hard not to understand what they want . They just want a warm safe home, good food, clean water, walks every day and in return they will give us years, and years of love and companionship. Keep the comments coming.

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