A friend and I were having a disagreement. He thought that we had offended a friend of a friend at a party we had just attended. “Dude – they were totally taken aback by that joke.”
I thought he was crazy. “No, they weren’t. They were amused and playing around with us.”
They had given us a sly look, and I saw the flash of a smirk appear on their face before they disappeared into the fray.
My friend was obviously (to me) misreading the situation. Our argument continued for some time. The problem with conversations like this, though, is that there’s no way to objectively settle it. I guess that we could have gone back, found the person, and asked them, “Hey, were you put off by that joke?” But, chances are that they would lie to us out of politeness, “of course not, don’t be silly.” No one likes conflict.
I’m sure you’ve also had conversations like this with people you know. Our social senses are all a bit different. Sometimes it feels like we’re watching different movies.
So when I heard of the “Reading The Mind in The Eyes” Test, I was fascinated.
Developed by Simon Baron Cohen, the cousin of Borat (Sacha Baron Cohen), it’s a powerful tool for measuring one’s ability to detect and understand how others are feeling (AKA empathy). It’s also used for diagnosing autism.
I took the test and sent it out to a number of my friends (and family).
“Take this and let me know what your score is.”
The scores came trickling in.
“I got a 32”
A perfect score is 36. An average score (from the original study) is ~26, while those with autism scored around 22.*
A close friend, a self-anointed “people person”, came back with a middle-of-the-road 25.
A nerdy, introverted buddy came in at 32.
Interestingly, the people that I always had these social disagreements with all scored in the average range (25 or 26), while I came in at 35.
The friend I mentioned at the beginning of the email said that they would defer to my judgment when we had future disagreements over social situations. “I’ll trust you from now on.”
A happy ending.
Here’s a link to the test: http://socialintelligence.labinthewild.org/
Take it and let me know what you think.
If you’re bold enough, also send me your score. I’ll compile all the scores I get and send out insights (anonymized, of course) re: my readers.
*though that study used a very small sample of those with autism