There’s a simple trick to ‘read’ other people’s emotions more accurately

Rob Waugh

Have you ever felt that you couldn’t really understand what people are feeling – or that you can’t ‘read’ people’s emotions accurately?

There might be a trick to help: closing your eyes to listen.

A new study in American Psychologist explored the ‘empathic accuracy’ of the ways we communicate, and found that listening on its own may be a good way to ‘read’ people’s emotions.

Previously, many scientists had assumed that watching someone’s face was the best way to understand their feelings.

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Researchers asked volunteers to watch videos and listen to sound, and found that they were more accurate in rating the emotions in a scene when listening.

‘Humans are actually remarkably good at using many of their senses for conveying emotions, but emotion research historically is focused almost exclusively on the facial expressions,’ said Yale University’s Michael Kraus.

‘It’s really how you speak -not just what you say – that matters for conveying emotion.’