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Mentalizing: therapy technique, or superpower?

A fun thought going into the holidays: maybe mentalizing is like a superpower! First came this article from the Harvard Business Review, discussing a study with results showing that teams work better with increasing numbers of women. Now, a large dataset from Medicare has shown us that women may be better doctors, too! In a study discussed on NPR today, female doctors were better at end of life care, even after adjusting for all the usual factors. Had male doctors performed as well, 32,000 lives could have been saved! The authors of these two studies cite communication and social sensitivity as likely to be the main factors that resulted in women's better performance compared to men. My hunch would be that female gender is really a proxy for more effective mentalizing, a capacity upstream of social sensitivity and communication. Better mentalizing leads to patients, or business partners, feeling understood and hence willing to share ideas and goals. So let's keep mentalizing; we won't fly or jump over tall buildings in a single bound, but we might save a few lives!

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