ATLANTA (CBS Atlanta) – According to a new study, a woman’s emotional intelligence is heightened during moments of stress while a man becomes “less able to distinguish their own emotions and intentions from those of other people.”
“Our starting hypothesis was that stressed individuals tend to become more egocentric,” Claus Lamm, a researcher at the University of Vienna and one of the authors on this study, told UPI. “Taking a self-centered perspective in fact reduces the emotional/cognitive load,” Lamm went on to say. “We therefore expected that in the experimental conditions people would be less empathic.”
The researchers proved that stress diminished the ability to empathize in men.
A team of researchers, led by Giorgia Silani, from the International School for Advanced Studies of Trieste, induced moderate stress in their study’s participants by public speaking performances or mental arithmetic tasks. The participants were then asked to imitate certain movements, recognize the emotions of others, or take on another person’s perspective.
“What we observed was that stress worsens the performance of men in all three types of tasks. The opposite is true for women,” Silani said.
Silani says that more research needs to be done to fully understand why this happens
“There’s a sublte boundary between the ability to identify with others and take on their perspective – and therefore be empathic – and the inability to distinguish between self and other, thus acting egocentrically,” Silani said. “To be truly empathic and behave pro-socially it’s important to maintain the ability to distinguish between slef and other, and stress appears to play an important role in this.”
The study was published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology.
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