More Empathetic? Yes, If You're Attracted to Men

This probably won't surprise too many of us.  But women are more empathetic than most, but not all, men.

A fascinating new study has revealed that men and women attracted to men are more empathetic than men and women attracted to women, according to a new study from the Department of Psychology at the University of Haifa. “People attracted to a particular gender, whether they are heterosexual or homosexual, have common social tools, and thus exhibit the same level of empathy,” says Professor Simone Shamay-Tsoory of the Department of Psychology at the University of Haifa who conducted the study, according to newswise.com.

Sociologists claim that empathy plays an important role in the development of human society in that it contributes to peoples’ understanding of others and causes them to take the latter’s feelings into account.

Behavioral and brain studies show that activities related to empathy are regulated differently in men and women, based on preferences that are acquired through social interaction and which use different areas of the brain. According to Professor Shamay-Tsoori, past studies have demonstrated that women are superior in tasks involving empathy, such as non-verbal communication and attention to changes in tone of voice and facial expression.

 The study revealed that sexual orientation is related to the level of empathy: based on self-reporting, heterosexual women showed the highest level of empathy, followed by gay men, then lesbian women, and finally heterosexual men.

A similar picture arose from analysis of brain activity, which was also conducted. During the empathic task, it was found that, among other things, the area of the TPJ (Temporal Parietal Junction) related to the perception of the other, was more active in subjects attracted to men compared to those attracted to women.

“The results of the research suggest that differences in empathy between people are monitored by a person’s sexual preference. Sexual attraction determines the person with whom we have a close and intimate relationship, so it is reasonable that the gender of the person to whom we are attracted will affect our ability to empathize,” concludes Professor Shamay-Tsoori.

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