Experts say not Genes but something else is to be blamed!

If you think that your man just doesn’t seem to understand, well, you’re right! A study conducted in England offers concrete clues about men being less empathetic than women.

Although Empathy can be defined as the ability to recognize and relate to what’s going on in another person’s mind, scientists all over the globe are still conducting researches to  understand what makes some people more accustomed to someone else’s feelings than others.

To understand more about empathy, researchers tried to evaluate the effect of genetics for an answer. To do so, they assessed the records of nearly 47,000 people who had used a home based DNA testing kit, for links between how well they performed on an empathy test and genetic variations.

The researchers observed that women scored 10 points higher in the “Emotional Quotient” (EQ) test than men. They found out that both men and women are genetically identical, but there is a significant difference in the empathy score. The research further revealed that the highest possible score in the EQ test is 80, where men on an average scored 40, while women, on average scored 50.

The Emotional Quotient (EQ) test carried out on men and women consisted of 60 questions that focused on various aspects of empathy, including cognitive empathy and affective empathy .Cognitive empathy is the ability to understand others’ states of mind and affective empathy is the ability to react appropriately to others.

To understand varying levels of empathy, researchers evaluated about 10 million variations in the genome. They looked for variations in a single building block of DNA, the nucleotide. These variations are called Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms, or SNPs. After collecting enough samples, a statistical analysis was carried out to understand the variations.

Researchers concluded that genetics had no role to play when we talk about empathy. It was not clear why men have less empathy than women do. They found that about 11 percent of the differences in empathy levels in the study population are due to a variation in SNP.

Researchers consider strong social factors like higher expectations of female children to be more understanding towards others’ feelings etc. in shaping how empathetic we are. The existence of non-genetic biological factors cannot be ruled out.

Scientists also said that since men and women are biologically different, the presence of hormones and hormone levels could be one of the possible reasons. They said that some of these hormones that are present in higher levels in women can drive some of the higher empathetic scores. High level of Oxytocin in women can make people more empathic while high concentration of testosterone in males could do the opposite.

The current study only looked at the contribution of SNP and more research is needed in this regard.