Predictors of performance on the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test

Clare M Eddy, Peter C Hansen

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We explored factors associated with performance on the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test (RMET). 180 undergraduate students completed the human RMET requiring forced-choice mental state judgment; a control human Age Eyes Test (AET) requiring age judgment; a Cat Eyes Test (CET) requiring mental state judgment; and measures of executive function, empathy and psychopathology. Versions of the CET and AET were created that matched the RMET for difficulty (accuracy 71%). RMET and CET performance were strongly correlated after accounting for AET performance. Working memory, schizotypal personality and empathy predicted RMET accuracy but not CET scores. Liking dogs predicted higher accuracy on all eyes tasks, whereas liking cats predicted greater mentalizing but reduced emotional expression. Importantly, we replicated our core findings relating to accuracy and correlations between the CET and RMET in a second sample of 228 students. In conclusion, people can apply similar skills when interpreting cat and human expressions. As RMET and CET performance were found to be differentially affected by executive function and psychopathology, the use of social cognitive measures featuring non-human animals may be of particular use in future clinical research.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0235529
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jul 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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