Reading the Mind in the Eyes

They say the eyes are the windows to the soul. I think this is mostly poetic hyperbole. I do believe that eyes are the windows to the emotions, or lack thereof.
Recently I’ve received a lot of mail inquiring about the capacity for empathy in Borderline Personality Disorder. This is a subject I find fascinating. So what is Empathy? Empathy is the capacity to recognize and, to some extent, share feelings (such as sadness or happiness) that are being experienced by another sapient or semi-sapient being.
Borderlines are often credited with being hypersensitive and with having the ability to be keenly aware of another person’s emotional state. Unfortunately we also have a tendency to personalize the emotions we read in other people and project what they are feeling onto ourselves. So I guess that makes us very perceptive but leaves something to be desired in our interpretation.  
Before I begin though, I’d like you to take this test.
It’s called Reading the Mind in the Eyes’. It measures the capacity to discriminate the mental state of others from expressions in the eye region of the face.
It’s hypothesized that those with Borderline Personality Disorder have an advantage in reading the expressions displayed on a person’s face. The average score for a typically empathic person (Non-BPD) on this test is 26.2.
I scored 31. Not perfect, but above average.
So tell me. How do you Score?

15 comments on “Reading the Mind in the Eyes

  1. I'm not sure what the standard deviation is.Though I do know that specifically in regards to BPD, the less emotionally turbulent we are when we take the test, the better our results should be (which also means I probably shouldn't be bothering with this right now – stupid turbulence). 36 is a small sample but this is a test of the more subtle and neutral emotions. You'll notice there weren't samples of things like Joy, Fury, Astonishment, etc. The emotions chosen were nuanced and require a deeper 'empathic' understanding to determine. Supposedly.

  2. I found a study (Fertuck, Jekal, et al – pdf available via Google Scholar) comparing performance in this test of individuals with BPD to control. Their SD is pretty high (BPD mean=28.5, SD=3.3 / control mean=25, SD=3.63), but they have decent standard errors.I think you make a good point about nuances. I didn't find the test difficult, but I do think I'd have a hard time picking out the accurate emotion if it were not in a list of four. I don't know if this speaks to my emotional ignorance or the nature of the emotional spectrum (irritability vs. agitation, bewilderment vs. confusion, concern vs. empathy). Likely the latter. Perhaps context is needed for that type of refinement.Thanks for posting about this test. I look forward to reading your thoughts on empathy. 🙂

  3. I got a 30.. very interesting.. considering my mood is not stable right now I'll take this later when it is more calm to see if there is a difference. I love finding tests like these.

  4. 27 for me… kinda bummed i didn't do better. does this mean i don't have BPD??? 🙂 i am going through a very hard time right now though… and a bunch of times i changed my answer at the last minute and i would have gotten it correct if i kept my first choice. i also agree with notamifiarscars, if i wasn't given the 4 choices i don't know if i would be able to pick it.

  5. I don't think they should be putting movie posters as samples. And Richard Guglinski, the serial killer. And say his gaze was "cautious" instead of "smug".I scored 28.

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