Gender differences in the association between theory of mind, empathy and conduct disorder: A cross-sectional study

Diferencias de género en la asociación entre teoría de la mente, empatía y trastorno de conducta: Un estudio transversal

El objetivo de este estudio fue explorar las diferencias de género en habilidades de teoría de la mente y empatía en una muestra de adolescentes con trastorno de conducta (n=46; 28 hombres y 18 mujeres). Se determinó un abordaje observacional con un diseño de corte transversal mediante el cual se evaluó la empatía (dimensiones cognitiva y afectiva) y teoría de la mente (lectura de la mirada). El análisis estadístico incluyó la descripción de las variables de acuerdo con su naturaleza, la evaluación de correlaciones cuantitativas, y el diseño de un modelo logístico multivariado para identificar las variables que diferencian los pacientes según su género. Los resultados indicaron diferencias significativas por género tanto en empatía como en teoría de la mente. Las mujeres presentaron de manera consistente diferencias en los niveles de empatía cognitiva/afectiva y test de la mirada, con un menor número de síntomas de conducta. Los resultados se discuten a la luz de la evidencia empírica actual y se sugieren algunas direcciones futuras en el estudio del trastorno de conducta.

Palabras clave:
Adolescencia, diferencias sexuales, empatía, teoría de la mente, trastorno de conducta


The purpose of this research was to explore gender differences regarding theory of mind and empathy abilities in a sample of adolescents with conduct disorder (n=46; males=28 and females=18). Empathy (cognitive and emotional dimensions) and theory of mind (reading the mind through the eyes) were tested based on an observational method with a cross-sectional design. Statistical analysis included: description of variables according to their type, assessment of quantitative correlations and logistic multivariate modelling for identifying variables that differentiate female from male patients. The results demonstrated significant gender differences in empathy and theory of mind evaluations. Particularly, women showed different scores for cognitive/emotional empathy and in the Reading the Mind through the Eyes test, with a lower number of behavioural symptoms. The results are discussed in light of the current empirical evidence, and some future directions in the study of conduct disorder are suggested.

Adolescence, gender differences, empathy, theory of mind, conduct disorder

Artículo Completo

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