Men find it harder than women to read facial expressions

New research could lead to new autism treatments

Researchers from Edinburgh University have found men just can’t read facial emotions like women can.

Both men and women were presented with photographs of faces and asked how intelligent the people seemed and how approachable they were. Their reactions were timed and their brains scanned as they came up with answers.

When asked about intelligence there was little difference between men and women, however the research found that men took longer to decide how approachable the people in the pictures were. Despite taking their time men did ultimately come to the same conclusion as women.

According to brain scans the rush of blood to the region of the brain involved in making emotional decisions suggests the male brain has to work harder to make emotional judgements.

The study was designed to give men enough time to read emotion, but faced with real life snap decisions man find it harder to make those judgements than women.

Speaking to MailOnline Professor Lawrie said: ‘Our findings suggest that men have developed strategies to cope with their lesser natural empathy by over-activating the parts of the brain that understand social cues.’

It is hoped that the research will lead to new treatments for people with autism – where people have difficulty distinguishing between facial emotions.

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