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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Can you read emotions?

New studies have found that if people read literary fiction for even a few minutes (as opposed to popular fiction or serious nonfiction), they perform better on tests measuring empathy and emotional intelligence. Isn't that fascinating? And it makes sense, since literary fiction often describes the characters' internal lives in great detail and puts the reader in someone else's shoes.

The New York Times also ran an online quiz to see how well you can read people's emotions just by seeing their eyes. Take it here! How did you do? Leave your score below. I got a 29/36 so that is the one to beat for now, haha.

P.S. A famous personality test, and are you an introvert or extrovert?

213 comments:

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Hannah S said...

32/36! What a neat study - I give all the credit to having two psychologists for parents.

Kendall said...

Wow, 30/36! I noticed that when I didn't read the answers first just went with the initial feeling each person's expression gave me it came up right - but when I spent time reading the answers first I'd start to doubt which answer was correct! Really cool test :)

koala said...

oh, i love this! i got a 34/36! which make sense according to the artilce i've been an avid reader of literary fiction since i was really young and i always thought i was picking up on people's moods/emotions that others didn't really seem to.

Giftzilla said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
J.Elizabeth said...

28/36. Dang! And I thought I was really great at reading people. I wonder how interesting a social experiment would be, having couples take the test separately and compare who got what wrong. Could be the cause of some arguments / miscommunications? :)

Afsi said...

25! Pleased with that score since I'm usually drawn to popular fiction. :)

I'm Becca. said...

Fun fact: one of the primary investigators on this project is Sasha Baron-Cohen's cousin.

Designology Interiors said...

31/36, not bad. I thought I would do better as the *sensitive/ creative* type. ;)

Franzi said...

28/36 ... thought I would be better :D!

laurencapri said...

34/36! I think some people just have a nack for reading faces. Anytime i am upset and I see my dad he immediately knows something is wrong, no matter how hard I try to hide it. My mom and husband on the other hand are oblivious. Maybe I inherited my dad's ability to read faces!

joana said...

30/36! :)

Oh She Glows said...

28/36...some of the ones in the middle were super hard!! Fun test! Will try it on my husband... ;)

Emily Weckesser said...

34/36! How fun.

iris said...

32/36 - not bad for a non-native English speaker as some of the terms are not standard speaking language! I must be good at this ;-)

Kayla said...

I got 30/36! :)

Carrie said...

32/36. That was fun thanks for sharing!

Ellen said...

I got a 35/36...

Maria22 said...

32/36 - Love this! What an interesting study! Thanks for this.

Jessica said...

32/36

Jamie said...

30/36! i have been accused of being insensitive before, but its not bc i cant read people... its because i chose not to care LOL. jk... sorta ;)

emmasfavouritethings said...

30/36! I noticed that I found the male eyes to be harder to read! I wonder how gender affects this test.

lindsay said...

32/36 -- pretty sure this is a product of my nose in a book.

racherpeg said...

33/36! Apparently all that reading is paying off... :)

Landis Carey said...

30/36 -- so fun! Thanks for sharing this. Going to send to my husband!

J. Rae said...

31/36, fun challenge!

Emily said...

What is your favorite work of literary fiction? Suggestions for those of us who might be stuck? My favorite of 2013 (just because i read it this year) is Brideshead Revisited.

Nikki said...

I'm with you... 29/36. Seeing as how I'm lucky if I read one book per year, I'll take it!

Meredith said...

31/36. Interesting Quiz!

Casey Elizabeth said...

31/36. It's amazing what you can tell just by looking at someone's eyes! Maybe the fiction helps because we have to visualize the character's facial expressions while we read. I do love a good novel. :)

Edith said...

33/36!!!!! I was shocked by the results....but it is good to know!

Wildes Waldwesen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SashaK said...

29/36 too. Why were so many of the women's eye's sexual? Fantasizing, flirtatious, desire? None of the men's eyes have those emotions.

Wildes Waldwesen said...

36/36... People's emotions is like a language I'm fluent in. Not always a blessing!

Rachel Baddorf said...

30/36. Not bad. I recently took the Myers Briggs again and I'm a INTJ which are supposed to be able to tell others emotions better than others. I wonder what other's personality types are who score well.

Heather said...

35/36 - I have always wanted to be a psychotherapist....at least I would be decent at reading their facial cues :)

AKC said...

31/36

Charlotte | Charlotte's Web said...

You beat me, I got 25 :)

Katie said...

27/36. There were a few answers I disagreed with. And why are the 'interested,' 'flirtatious' eyes all women's? Where are the lecherous old men??

Joanna Goddard said...

@katie, omg i AGREE about the flirtatious women!!! so weird. so many of them were flirty. felt annoyingly sexist especially for a nytimes/scientific quiz.

Jessica said...

27/36 and I'm a psychiatrist.... oh well. I agree with Katie above that all the women are "flirtatious" "interested" "playful" where are the men?? Also agree that I did better if I didn't read the answers first.

Violet Clouds said...

31/36, agree with Katie above too. There seemed to be a gender bias in the photos selected.

steamy.sopranos said...

i score 31/36! guess being a bookworm/actress pays off....

Jessica said...

That struck me as well!

Hope said...

28/36. I feel like women would be better at this quiz than men. I know my boyfriend and dad would score considerable lower than me.

Hope said...

*considerably

Ana Simões said...

29/36, too.

Guess I kept wanting women to be aghast at being flirtatious all the time ;)))

emilygotta said...

31/36. I miss-guessed three men, but only two women. Hmmm! Generally I find men easier to read.

Tina said...

29/36

S said...

I got a 32 after realizing early on that the quiz was quite sexist.

Sharyn said...

31, baby!

CZ said...

I got a 32!

Jennifer Brown said...

30/36 Not too shabby!

Chelsea said...

34/36... this was fun!

JenJekel said...

34/36! And I don't disagree that it was kind of a sexist quiz, although maybe they were limited by the pictures they could find of people to use. Quiz's fault, or media/advert's fault?

Aja Lake | the gold hat. said...

29/36. I loved this!

Erin said...

31/36, I enjoyed it!

Aja Lake | the gold hat. said...

I thought the same, Hope!

naomi: said...

31/36! Can't wait to make my boyfriend do it, haha

Ashley said...

31/36!

Ellie said...

I got a 29/36 too!

Galway Girl said...

29/36 - still having trouble understanding the meaning of some terms in english. :P

Erin Gray said...

30/36 - and agree that the test is sexist - flirtation was mostly associated with women

Carrie said...

34/36! Whoop -- a little confidence booster first thing in the morning! :)

Julia Matsuoka said...

30/36! Whoa this is so interesting!

MnNYC said...

32/36 - I read pretty much only YA... But those books spend a lot of time in teenagers' crazy, emotional heads... So maybe that's what helped.

MnNYC said...

32/36 - I read pretty much only YA... But those books spend a lot of time in teenagers' crazy, emotional heads... So maybe that's what helped.

samantha hahn said...

31 out of 36

Shay said...

32/36!

lazykitty said...

32/36. Interesting quiz!

abroadathome said...

25/36, which is a little baffling since I think I'm usually pretty good at reading people. Maybe it was all the grainy photos ;) Really neat test that I'll pass along to friends! Thanks for sharing! x
-Kristina

Katie MacDonald said...

31/36, this was so interesting! Thanks for sharing, totally agree about literary fiction too.

Margaret S. said...

33/36! Can't wait to pass it on.

Sharon Beesley said...

same!! 29/30. i was kicking ass at the beginning.

Liz M C said...

Yes! All the women who looked like they were giving the "get the hell away from me" look were all flirtatious, interested, or fantasizing.

Dalia said...

31/36! Very happy since I am a veterinarian and 90% of my job is dealing with people and trying to read them before they flip out for one thing or another.

diana guerguieva said...

29 too.

robin said...

34/36!

Sara Gdlc. said...

27/33
I thought I would do worse, so very happy with my score :)

JCrow said...

32/36
With the ones I got wrong - I always managed to choose an emotion that could actually be a sub-emotion of the correct answer. Great test.

aoife said...

I was the same, when I went immediately with gut feeling I got it right and the ones I got wrong were ones I thought about a bit too much.
32/36

Patricia Paramo said...

OMGGGG 22/36 hahaha I suck at this!!

I'll have to be careful reading people's emotions!

http://brunettelettersblog.blogspot.com/

Lindsay said...

I got a 34/36 too!

Hannah said...

25/30! That was harder than I thought it would be haha. In my psychology class we did a similar test but with smiles. But in that test we could see the entire face.

Zsú said...

I scored a 27, but I didn't understand some of the words, and was too lazy to check it in a dictionary so...

CUKOR

AmericanMum said...

35/36. Interesting test.

Marcela Amaya said...

I scored 31 :))))))

Jesse said...

26/36. that is tough and i'm an avid reader of all things.

http://semiweeklyeats.blogspot.com/2013/10/weekend-outfit-1.html

marie said...

33... maybe being a teacher helps as much as chekhov! strangely, i missed them if i read the options before the images.

Melanie Price said...

Very interesting quiz-I scored a 27/36. A few of them were pretty tough to read. I am going to have my co-workers take this quiz today...interested to see where some of them will score.
Have an awesome Tuesday!

LaurelAnne said...

32 - not too shabby!

Eriannejoy said...

30/36, interesting!

Kimberly said...

32/36! Some of the older faces were difficult for me to read.

Maywyn Studio said...

31/36 Twice. I agree, some are tough to read.The second set of eyes, for example, is not easy. I believe if I take the quiz a few more times, my score won't change much, and if it does, the score will be lower.

Heather said...

29/36 as well. Thought I'd do better. I found some of them a little hard since you couldn't actually make out there eyes. But hey whatever not to shabby for us.

<3
heather
fashionistanygirl.com

Maywyn Studio said...

The same here.

Kerry said...

Yeah seriously, I got 34/36 and the ones I got wrong were the fantasy type ones (I thought it was more like distrustful). Creepy!

Mona peacecabona said...

35/36! Impressed myself!

katie//salt+pine said...

32! Although I think I should have gotten credit for two more...the correct answer seemed a little bogus for those two. ;) I used to be a social worker so I think that helped me. :)

CarmenB. said...

I noticed the same thing with me.

Mona peacecabona said...

they use some of the same faces/eyes more than once with different words, so i dont know how accurate this is ;)

Tiffany said...

31/36. It's interesting. You realize how some emotions could play similarly.

Pualani said...

31/36. I honestly thought I'd get higher since I love reading and think I can read people's expressions really well. What's the difference between literary fiction and popular fiction?

Misha West said...

33/36! That was fun!

Nancy Cavillones said...

30 out of 36! I thought this quiz was interesting because lately, I've been thinking about how being deaf might make me more skilled at reading people's facial expressions and body language. I'm not sure if my score debunks my theory or not, though!

thisisforyou said...

30/36 and I'm not a big reader

Rachel Bowie said...

What a fun quiz! I got the same score as you: 29 out of 36. Very interesting research!

evolutionofa30something said...

33/36! Not bad at all. :)

Ana said...

36/36! :O
No wonder I always spot who's lying eheheh ;)

Sarah Zindt said...

31/36! I was surprised, it seemed more challenging than I thought it would be!

Isabel said...

So interesting! Thanks for sharing :)


http://www.helloisabela.blogspot.com

Quiana said...

What a cool quiz! 31/36

awsmith12 said...

So fun! 31/36

Nina Leung said...

32/36...fascinating! I'm definitely going to get my husband to try this. He's always telling me I'm too sensitive, but I've always disagreed. One can't be TOO sensitive to other's emotions.

I noticed that I did better when I went with my immediate gut and ignored the answers.

Thanks for this! What fun!

http://itsazooatthezoo.blogspot.com/

decides2dream said...

30/36!
not too shabby.
very cool.

lauren hood said...

26/36!

Samantha K said...

30...found the women much harder to read then the men, they all looked similar to me!

Diana McNeill said...

31/36!

Susan L. said...

34/36. I'm a photographer so I spend a lot of time studying the faces of my clients and trying to elicit certain looks from them. Fun quiz.

Katherine Spangler said...

34/36 for me. Comes in handy, being a nurse.

anne said...

32/26...i have been reading a lot of literary fiction lately!

anne said...

32/26...i have been reading a lot of literary fiction lately!

Mayoli Weidelich said...

23!! And I thought I would be AMAZING at this lol!

Inari said...

35/36, the one I missed was the lady who looked like she was about to kill someone. She was apparently fantasizing -- they must not have asked her about what! Clearly it was murder. :P

glenda said...

24/36 well.................. lol... thanks for sharing... it was fun!

lipstick and soda said...

31/36. i'm oddly pround :) thanks for the lovely blog post!

lipstick and soda said...

*proud

Larissa said...

33/36! that was fun!

Melissa said...

So interesting! I got 32/36

Tish said...

24/36 I'm a people reader so I was surprised actually. I had more issues with the words lol...I just have never contemplated how tentative and reflective could look lol...apparently

Katie Peden said...

34/36. Maybe I should credit currently rereading one of my favorite works of literary fiction - Franny and Zooey

Christine said...

31/36 - fun quiz! I do read a lot although not so much literary lately.

jrschoen said...

I got 32/36!

Alyssa said...

33/36. I got all the men right and missed a few of the women. Wondering if that means something...? I have always known that I am good at reading emotions. I think this is why I have a hard time looking people in the eye while I'm talking. I'm constantly distracted by their reaction to what I'm saying. It's not a great trait to have because lack of eye contact comes off as being dishonest or embarrassed. I'm just trying to say focused!

Erica said...

I also noticed all of the people were caucasian!

Kit said...

34/36!

Briel said...

I got 29/36 as well! I read a lot of books but not a lot of literary fiction.

Aaron said...

31/36 I agree! The women were a lot more difficult!

sarah nadine said...

31/36 and yes ... i was the same. got all the men right, just missed a few of the women. very interesting test. going to get my husband to do this one :P

Gina said...

The test reveals that the average score is 22.

I'm thinking that there 1) you have a very specific readership, or 2) the majority your readers who took the test only posted if they did well.

Brooklynne said...

33/36!

sam said...

Only 26/36! And I thought I was doing so well!

jad said...

30/36

Tamsin Jessica said...

26. All the ones I wasn't confident about, I got wrong. When I was right, I new for sure I would be!

Liza said...

32/36, need to keep on reading!

D+I+A said...

Thanks so much for posting this, Joanna! It's just fascinating the link between reading literary texts and increased social and emotional intelligence. My guess that reading literary texts vs. popular fiction is more about the type of reading one does and that what's referred to as close reading corresponds to the largest strides is social/emotional intelligence. There's an awesome article called something like, "This is your brain on Jane Austen" that talks about this.

I agree with earlier comments that this test is problematic in its representations of gender and its lack of representation of racial difference. Interestingly, women and people from different racial backgrounds tend to score higher, on average, on empathy tests, most likely because they are used to switching back and forth from their own perspective plus the dominant (read: white, straight, male) perspective--i.e. Du Bois's idea of double consciousness.

D+I+A said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jamaise said...

30/36 and one I hit the wrong button. I was surprised I did so well. It was easy.

lily said...

34/36! I think accurately reading people's emotions is a blessing and a curse.

Kimberly said...

Of course!! Lit is medicine for the soul.

Michelle Ash Latham said...

I got 32/36 -- not too bad! What a neat test!

www.ahealthymrs.com

Elizabeth Scott said...

31/36

This is a pretty famous psychology test called Reading the Mind in the Eyes (or RMET), it measures a psychology concept called "Theory of Mind".

It's really interesting stuff!

FreestoneFam said...

32!

Melissa said...

30. Really interesting.

flashshoe said...

I consider myself good at reading people (and I like reading). I got 34 out of 36. Some of these were challenging, especially some of the ones where one eye was almost closed and the eyebrows weren't clear.

flashshoe said...

I also thought that women would be better at this quiz than men. I want some large-scale data!

Jillian said...

31

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Courtney said...

28. And it seemed the ones I got wrong I tried to make it more complicated, not selecting my first, automatic choice. Fascinating - thanks for sharing!

Leah said...

Snap! 29/36 too!

Speckled With Freckles said...

31/36 Pretty good. With that said, I really enjoy reading.

goodnightstars said...

33/36 what an interesting test!

Lili said...

32/36 How fun!

TANYA said...

29/36 as well! And like Courtney, when I answered against my initial, gut reaction I always missed :) Thanks for posting about this!

Kiley Kate said...

32/36! I do read literary fiction, but I also work in a museum selling tickets, so I credit working in customer service to having a good score.

CoffeeMom said...

I got 36 out of 36! Yay!
I knew I was good but...still

JM said...

Yikes! Only 25/36.

Mol said...

33/36 I'm a teacher, I read facial cues all day from students and adults! Fun test!

Amy Daniewicz said...

35/36 I'm kind of surprised, actually. I guess I should trust my readings of others a bit more.

amydaniewicz.com

shiotheway said...

33/36! Cool quiz, but what is with all the women's eyes having to do with "fantasizing" or "desire" or the like? Makes one wonder where these pictures are from and what message they are purporting about women.

Lindsey said...

35! Which explains why I'm always stressed how people are feeling :)
-Lindsey

Ce Petit Coeur said...

35/36! Proof that an English degree can be useful ;)

Rose said...

32, probably because I have been a teacher for seventeen years, with fifteen of those teaching in middle school (grade 6-8), and now I teach high school. Fun quiz, thanks!

Champagne Sunday said...

28/36. I figured as much. I read mostly scifi, lol. So much fun! I'm going to make everyone take this test for the next couple of days.

Cheers!
www.champagnesundayliving.com

Schenck catherine said...

30/36, I corrected my gut instinct on 2 and shouldn't have! Cool test, thanks!

Constance said...

34/36! I'm pretty sensitive to others' emotions, so I'm not too surprised! :)

Lynne Millar said...

Speaking of personality tests (your other links) - did you see the article in the Huffington Post about which fictional characters are which myers-briggs types? So interesting! Here is the link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/06/myers-briggs-fiction_n_1652300.html#slide=1131399

Aleksandra said...

27/36 ;> not good as I expected.

Chiara Arkesteijn said...

I got a 27/36, I thought I would be better at this! Although I noticed that at first I was thinking to hard about the right answer.

Anna said...

This is very interesting. I sometimes think that I am a master of it, but that is usually when I have my worst interpretations, or at least the interpretations that have the worst impacts. (And I am still struggling to find out whether I am an introvert or extrovert :)

Jennifer S. said...

As a writer of literary fiction, this is very gratifying! Nice to see reading isn't dead after all.

-Jen
yourstrulyjen.com

Pheasant said...

33! that was fun!

Jessica said...

30/36. fun! yea, literature!

Liesbeth said...

26/36, but I doubted a lot between 2 and then the answer was the other one. I also had to translate a lot of words, so let's say it's the language that got me. (dutch speaking). Very nice to know that reading fiction is good for you :-)

shahrzad maydani said...

34/36 boom!

Make.Good said...

30/36! Not bad. This is a great test.

Make.Good said...

30/36! Not bad. This is a great test.

Lindsey Strang said...

32/36 I love tests like this!

Vicky said...

30/36 - good to know that all the book reading can be put to good use :-)

Megan Humphreys said...

30/36...looks like I have some reading to do!

sugrmtn32 said...

32/36 - I surprised myself!

Riley Justesen said...

31/36...I wonder what my boyfriend would get. Interesting to see how different people score differently---says a lot about them perhaps!

Jazz said...

35/36, and wondering if that relates to the English Literature degree I'm currently undertaking?

Erinne O'Hara said...

30/36

A.Co said...

COOL TEST! I got 26.

Leah Behr said...

31! I was shooting for 36, darn!

EatPrayWearLove

Laurenn said...

Whoo hoo! I scored 31/36 :D
This is a great activity/article, especially for the young generation I'm surrounded by that has everyone communicating mostly through the phone and computer. The sensitivity IQ average would be undoubtedly and sadly low! I'm definitely sharing this with my buds! :D

Lauren Kay said...

34/36! Face reading master right here. A lot of it was process of elimination for me.

The Cracker of Dawn said...

35/36! I am so proud.

Laine said...

33/36. Not bad!

Laine said...

33/36. Not bad!

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