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Study: Alcohol Addiction Makes Men Less Empathetic

Friday, November 9th, 2012

man hiding faceA new study says that heavy drinking can interfere with men’s empathy and ability to understand irony. Men who are problem drinkers are much more likely to misinterpret what they see and hear, particularly when it comes to deciphering other people’s emotions and understanding irony. Researchers at the University of Milan tested 22 men in their third week of alcohol detox, comparing them to 22 men who were not alcoholics. Researchers asked all of the men to read stories that ended with either a straightforward or an ironic statement. They then administered questionnaires to gauge the men’s understanding of irony and the characters’ emotions.

For example, in a story where a woman asks her guests to be on time, one story ends with a straightforward statement (a guest arrives on time and she says, “You’re right on time!”) and one ends with an ironic statement (a guest arrives late and she says, “You’re right on time!”) The men in detox identified ironic sentences correctly only 63 percent of the time, compared to 90 percent of the sober men.

Researcher Simona Amenta concluded that chronic alcohol abuse affects “the perception and decoding of emotional expressions” and makes it harder for people to distinguish and comprehend other people’s emotional states.

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Source: NBC Alcoholic men can’t feel your pain. Here’s why

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1 Comment

  • R Johnson

    This is very interesting and helpful for those who are in a relationship with someone dealing with alcohol addiction. Having a better understanding of their inabilities due to their emotional state can be a helpful tool.