They say money can’t buy love, and apparently it can’t buy empathy either?
That’s the finding of a study from a team of researchers at the University of California, US.
The study used a cognitive empathy test called ‘the reading the mind in the eyes,’. In this test, participants from higher and lower social classes were asked to determine emotional states from images of eyes.
The results showed those in the lower class were better at understanding other people’s minds compared to those in the upper class.
The team conducted the study with 300 US workers on Amazon’s Turk crowdsourcing and an additional 452 Americans from the Prolific Academic Platform.
The emotion perception performance was analyzed using the reading the mind in the eyes test, which presented each participant with 36 pictures displaying the eyes and surrounding areas of a series of faces.
Subjects were also presented with a list of four emotions, which they used to match the pictured emotion.
The concluded that; “performance on an array of empathic accuracy tasks varied inversely with perceivers’ social class.”
A second part of the study asked 138 undergraduates at New York University to complete the Director Task, which requires individuals to move objects on a computer based on the perspective of a virtual avatar.
In both studies, the team determined that the lower class had performed better in each of the tests.
Experts suggest this is because lower social classes tend to prioritize the needs and preferences of others, and are ultimately more empathetic.