Monday, November 26, 2007

Empathy, Gender, Fantasy and Fiction

High Empathy (Mostly Women), Low Empathy (Mostly Men) and the Movies in the New York Times.
To test empathy levels and the subjects’ reactions to various melodramas, the researchers turned to several classic short stories, like “The Last Leaf” by O. Henry, that include struggles against adversity and melancholy plot twists.

People with low empathy (mostly men) who believed the stories to be fantasies liked them much better than those who were told the stories were factual. The reverse held true for people with high empathy, who were mostly women.

Another surprising observation from the study: not one of the 492 students tested reported having read or heard any of the stories, even though some are quite prominent. “I was appalled,” Professor Argo said.

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