Secrets of the Male Mind #8
8: Men Aren’t as Empathetic as Women
In general, men read less fiction than women, and they rarely find themselves hooked on soap operas. That may be because men frequently test as less empathetic than women [Source: Eliot]. Without empathy, or the ability to put oneself in another person’s shoes, men may have a harder time investing in fictional characters.
Psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen has described the male brain as one that’s wired for “systemizing,” in comparison to the female brain, which is characterized by “empathizing” [Source: Kanazawa]. Rather than figuring out how another person feels, men tend to see another person as a machine that is ordered by defined rules. When others aren’t predictable or easy to analyze, it’s harder for men to determine what to do next. For this reason, Baron-Cohen has linked “extreme male brains” to autism, which is characterized by an inability to understand what others are thinking or feeling.
There is likely an evolutionary reason for this. Men, in their roles as hunter and protector, would have needed the ability to coldly kill animals and people in order to feed and defend their family. Women, as caregivers, would have needed the ability to nurture their children and get along with nearby families [Source: Kanazawa].
Now, such distinctions may be wired into our brains. Mirror neurons may play a role in empathy. As the name implies, these neurons cause us to mirror actions and emotions that are presented to us. If our friend looks sad, mirror neurons would cause us to feel sad and wonder what was wrong. Studies have shown that women have more sensitive mirror neurons than men, which is probably why they’re better at picking up emotional cues and detecting when something is wrong [Source: Weiner]. So if you’re sending a man what you consider to be glaring signals that something is wrong, cut him some slack. He’ll need more than withering looks and body language to receive an error message.
There does seem to be one instance when men’s mirror neurons work just fine, and you might not like it.
Article Curteousy of Discovery