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Research on sex differences in empathy has revealed mixed findings. Whereas experimental and neuropsychological measures show no consistent sex effect, self-report data consistently indicates greater empathy in women. However, available mainly come from separate populations with relatively small samples, which may inflate effect sizes and hinder comparability between both empirical corpora. To elucidate the issue, we Women want sex Davis Junction two large-scale studies. Moreover, we investigated the relationship between empathy and moral judgment.

showed some sex differences in the experimental paradigm, but with minuscule effect sizes. Conversely, women did portray themselves as more empathic through self-reports. In addition, utilitarian responses to moral dilemmas were less frequent in women, although these differences also had small effect sizes.

These findings suggest that sex differences in empathy are highly driven by the assessment measure. In particular, self-reports may induce biases leading individuals to assume gender-role stereotypes. Awareness of the role of measurement instruments in this field may hone our understanding of the links between empathy, sex differences, and gender roles. A population-based study on sex differences and gender roles in empathy and moral cognition. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attributionwhich permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Competing interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist. These and other gender stereotypes have perpetuated the notion that women are more empathetic and caring than men. Supporting evidence for gender stereotypes has been obtained through self-report empathy questionnaires [ 2 — 5 ], which may be strongly biased by gender-relevant social expectations [ 67 ].

Similarly, from self-administered measures have motivated the view that women are more care-oriented than men in moral reasoning [ 89 ]. While this evidence seems to reveal sex differences in both empathy and moral judgment, it stems from instruments likely to bias responses towards gender-role stereotypes [ 71011 ].

Indeed, sex differences are typically absent in relevant experimental tasks [ 412 ] and physiological measures [ 61314 ].

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Moreover, available stem from relatively small samples, which casts doubts on both lines of research because they may inflate effect sizes and yield inaccurate estimations of the relevance of a ificant difference. Through the present population-based study, we aimed to a assess whether empathy, moral judgment, and their relationship differ between sexes; and b test whether ly reported empathy differences obtained though gender-role-biased instruments also emerge on a well-validated experimental paradigm [ 15 — 19 ]. In particular, by analyzing data from massive samples, we aim to go beyond p -values as indicators of ificance and focus on the systematicity of potential differences by considering truly informative effect sizes.

studies on sex differences in empathy have yielded mixed. Such differences are stronger when empathy is measured with self-report questionnaires e. Sex differences favoring women were also observed through a task assessing feelings of sympathy towards targets, prior to performing an empathic accuracy task [ Women want sex Davis Junction ]. Contrarily, no sex differences emerge when empathy is assessed with experimental tasks [ 412 ] or physiological measures [ 61314 ]. Thus, sex differences in empathy vary dramatically depending on the method of assessment.

Such inconsistencies have been further fueled by other factors. For instance, available stem from relatively small samples and no population-based studies have been performed. In addition, although reporting confidence intervals is a highly desirable practice in psychology [ 24 ], it has been overlooked in most studies. Most of the extant work on sex differences in empathy has been based on formal statistical ificance—typically, a p -value less than. P-values alone do not permit any direct statement about the direction or size of a difference between groups.

For this purpose, confidence intervals provide information about statistical ificance, as well as the direction and strength of the effect [ 25 ]. Moreover confidence intervals help to combine evidence over experiments and give information about precision [ 24 ]. A further caveat is that although effect sizes are considered the most important outcome of empirical studies [ 26 ], they are absent in most available research e.

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In this sense, the statistical power of psychological and neuroscientific studies is typically undermined by the use of small samples, which le to overestimated effect sizes [ 2628 — 33 ]. Statistical power depends on the sample size of the study, the effect size, and the ificance criterion [ 26 ]. Consequently, larger sample sizes increase power and decrease estimation error [ 34 ].

In addition, data from population-based sample sizes increase the precision of estimated effects [ 2935 — 37 ], although they also increase the likelihood of obtaining unduly ificant p -values. Accordingly, large-scale population-based studies reporting confidence intervals and effect sizes stand out by the robustness of their and the precision of their estimates: even if their ificance levels cannot be fully informative, the size of the reported effects can offer precise estimations of the relevance of apparent differences. Self-report measures of empathy may be strongly influenced by gender-relevant social norms and expectations [ 67Women want sex Davis Junction23 ].

Indeed, self-reported empathy has been linked with social desirability [ 38 — 40 ], and sex differences in such a measure correlate better with gender roles than with biological sex [ 41 ]. As emotionality and sensitivity are both part of the stereotypical feminine role, women could be more willing than males to portray themselves as empathic, even if empathic responsiveness were similar for both groups [ 7 ].

These traditional gender stereotypes still persist, as women, relative to men, continue to be regarded as warmer, nicer, and more sensitive, modest, and sociable than men [ 4445 ]. Together with behavioral [ 412 ] and physiological [ 61314 ] empathy studies yielding no sex-related effects, the evidence suggests that sex differences in this domain may emerge only when gender-role stereotypes are activated by explicit self-assessment instruments [ 71046 ]. A similar scenario concerns moral judgment. Also, moral dilemmas have been reported to yield more utilitarian responses in men than in women [ 4748 ].

However, some of these might also be biased by the use of self-report instruments [ 11 ]. The relationship between empathy and morality has been well established [ 49 — 53 ]. For instance, empathy-related processes are thought to motivate prosocial behavior and caring for others. Also, empathy could both provide a foundation for morality [ 495052 ] and interfere with morally adequate practices—for instance, by introducing partiality towards in-group members [ 49 ].

Additional support for a link between both domains is provided by studies [ 5455 ] showing that low empathic concern levels predict utilitarian moral judgment. Considering these caveats, and in light of the tight links between empathy and morality, we conducted two large population-based studies to assess whether sex differences in each domain and in their relations prove instrument-dependent.

In Study 1, we employed an experimental empathy-for-pain task EPT alongside two well-known moral judgment tasks. Empathy-for-pain paradigms reliably induce empathic responses [ 50525657 ], engaging putative neural circuits [ 58 ] and triggering automatic sensorimotor resonance between other and self [ 59 — 61 ].

Importantly, relative to self-report instruments, these tasks can induce more automatic responses [ 6061 ] which are less likely to be influenced by gender-relevant social stereotypes and expectations. Questions included in the EPT are less explicitly associated with empathy and are therefore less likely to elicit a social desirability bias.

Thus, this instrument does not involve a self-assessment on empathic abilities, nor does it activate the gender-role stereotype that women are more empathetic than men. In Study 2, we aimed to a replicate ly reported sex differences in self-reported empathy and b test whether obtained in Study 1 were replicated when subjective data are considered. To these ends, a subsample of the subjects from Study 1 completed a questionnaire on various aspects of empathy.

Given that responses to self-report instruments are typically biased to social desirability and gender-role stereotypes, we expected sex differences to become manifest only in this second study. Study 1 comprised 10, individuals 5, women and 5, men with a mean age of Study 2 was based on a subsample of subjects women, men with a mean age of All participants were university students and professionals possessing at least 12 years of education see details on participants nationality in S1 Fig. Participants were recruited via the online portal Intramed www.

This recruitment procedure has been employed in several studies e. Participants were excluded from analysis if they did not complete the survey. In addition, participants who completed the entire survey in an extremely short time less than 3 minutes were excluded as this suggests that they did not paid full attention to the tasks. According with the reaction times measured in our studies [ 16 — 1862 ], it would be impossible for a subject to read, understand and complete both the EPT and the moral judgment tasks in less than 3 minutes.

Potential respondents were informed of the anonymity of their responses. Participants first reported their age, gender, occupation, and country of residence and then completed a series of tasks, as described below. Empathy for pain was assessed with a modified version of a task ly employed in several studies of our group [ 15 — 1962 ], which evaluates various aspects of empathy in events involving either intentional or accidental harm.

Stimuli consisted in 11 animated scenarios 4 intentional, 4 accidental, 3 neutral featuring two individuals. Motion was implied in each scenario by the successive presentation of three digital color pictures. The durations of the first, second, and third pictures in each animation were, and ms, respectively. In the intentional harm scenarios, one person deliberately inflicted pain on another e. In the accidental harm scenarios, one person accidentally inflicted pain on another e.

In the neutral scenarios, both persons interacted in the absence of pain e. Participants respond to these same five questions after viewing each scenario. The other questions were answered using a visual analogue scale ranging from 0 to —these s were not visible to participants. The meaning of the scale extremes depended on the question. Before testing, participants familiarized with the task by completing a training trial.

This task is based on the comparison of three different types of scenarios accidental harm, intentional harm, and neutral situations. This and similar versions of the EPT have been employed in numerous behavioral [ 16186266 ] and neuroimaging [ 1750 ] studies in different countries assessing clinical e. The ensuing systematically show that responses to each question are modulated by the context in which the action occurs. Specifically, empathy ratings i. If the format of the question may induce any response bias, this would equally affect the three conditions.

Thus, it is unlikely that differences in empathy ratings among stimulus types are explained by biased responses. In addition, participants were presented with two moral dilemmas [ 6768 ] in which they had to choose whether they would harm one person to save another five. On the one hand, Women want sex Davis Junction the standard trolley dilemma impersonalparticipants had to decide whether they would flip a switch to redirect a trolley onto a man in order to save five other individuals.

Such a choice is considered a utilitarian response, whereas a refrain from flipping the switch is deemed non-utilitarian. On the other hand, in footbridge dilemma personal participants also had the chance to save five people, but this time by pushing a man off a bridge in order to stop a trolley from hitting them further down the tracks.

Accepting to push the man constitutes a utilitarian response, whereas failure to do so is regarded as a non-utilitarian decision. In addition, for comparison purposes, we included a non-moral dilemma in which participants had to choose whether to travel by bus or train Women want sex Davis Junction certain time constraints. Importantly, the level of personal engagement and the form of inflicted harm is different in each moral dilemma: whereas the trolley dilemma proves more impersonal and less emotionally salient, the footbridge dilemma involves more personal engagement and greater emotionally salience [ 6970 ].

Also, although both moral dilemmas are logically equivalent, the impersonal one does not require consideration of an emotion-evoking personal violation to reach a utilitarian outcome [ 6970 ]. Thus, the vast majority of individuals select the utilitarian option in the trolley dilemma and the non-utilitarian option in the footbridge dilemma [ 71 — 73 ].

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In addition to the measures described above, the subsample participating in Study 2 completed a self-report questionnaire of empathy, as detailed below. Participants completed the Interpersonal Reactivity Index IRIa item self-report questionnaire that separately measures cognitive and affective components of empathy [ 27 ]. A total score can also calculated by adding the scores of the four subscales. Demographic and neuropsychological data were compared between samples with ANOVA tests; categorical variables were analyzed through X 2 tests.

The assumption of normality was verified using the Shapiro-Wilk test. Following procedures [ 15 — 18Women want sex Davis Junction ], we separately analyzed the ratings for each question of the EPT using a 2 group: female vs. Between-group differences in responses to the moral dilemmas and the non-moral dilemma were explored using X 2 tests.

We re-analyzed the empathy data using the responses to the personal dilemma as a covariate—for a similar approach see [ 1674 ]. Finally, we conducted multiple regression analyses to explore whether EPT performance was explained by sex or moral judgments. Considering our large sample sizes, between-group differences in both studies were reported with p -values and their associated effect sizes. Details of these can be found in S2 Text. Demographic data was analyzed following the same procedures as described for Study 1.

As in Study 1, we re-analyzed self-reported empathy data using the response to the personal dilemma as covariate. Finally, as in Study 1, we conducted multiple regression analyses to explore whether IRI scores were explained by sex or moral judgment.

For these analyses, the items yielding ificant sex differences were framed as dependent variables. Study 1 comprised 10, individuals who first reported their age, gender, occupation, and country of residence and then completed the EPT and a moral judgment task. The five EPT measures see methods section revealed ificant between-group differences. These are shown in Fig 1A and detailed below. Descriptive statistical data are provided in S1 Table. A from the sample of Study 1. B from the sample of Study 2.

All data in which we found ificant differences between women and men, were later reanalyzed with Kruskal-Wallis tests. All remained unchanged see S1 Text. In order to rule out trivial ificant differences related to the large sample size, we re-analyzed the EPT data in the subsample of Study 2.

A radically different picture emerged. Crucially, however, no other ificant main effects of sex or interactions between sex and stimulus type were observed for any of the remaining EPT ratings see Fig 1B. Descriptive statistical data are provided in S2 Table. All empathy ratings for intentional harms were higher in women than in men.

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