Teenage boys struggling with the angst of having no girlfriend -- rejoice!
A new study from the Institute for Positive Psychology and Education in Australia has revealed that male teens can increase their chances of attracting their female counterparts just by showing more empathy.
The research shows that teenage boys who display high levels of cognitive empathy attract nearly twice as many friendships with girls than other, low empathy boys -- although that desire for empathy isn't reflected.
Interestingly, the Australian Research Council-funded study also found that teenage boys did not care nearly as much about receiving empathy from girls -- a finding study leader Professor Joseph Ciarrochi says it shows the different ways males and females approach friendship.
"The more friendship nominations a boy received from either boys or girls, the more they felt supported by their friends; the number of friendship nominations received by girls, in contrast, had no effect on their felt support by friends," he explained.
However, Prof Ciarrochi says empathy, which the study defines as "the capacity to comprehend the emotions of another person", still has a big role to play in successful relationships.
"Regardless of the quantity of friendship nominations, empathy was linked to more supportive friendships for both males and females," he said.
"Friends are essential to positive adolescent development. It's well established that in addition to providing companionship, close friendships promote the development of interpersonal skills, learning, and growth."
And he says encouraging friendships can have a positive impact on our mental health.
"Having friends has also been linked with lower rates of depression, and to people feeling good about themselves. This research suggests it is critical to identify and teach young people the skills they need to develop supportive friendships.
"To that end, our study provides a contextual understanding of the role of empathy in selecting and maintaining friendships."
You can read the study here.