June 10, 2022
Category:

Reading the Mind in the Eyes test

Last updated on November 9, 2022

The Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test (RMET or Eyes Test for short) has been widely used to measure theory of mind—the ability to recognize and understand another person’s mental state—or social intelligence.

 

Basic information
Test items: 36
Duration: 2–20 minutes
Type: screening tool
Author: Simon Baron-Cohen
Publishing year: 1997 (updated in 2001)
Seminal paper: The ‘Reading the mind in the eyes’ test revised version: A study with normal adults, and adults with Asperger Syndrome or High-Functioning autism (Baron-Cohen, 2001)

2021 update
Statements: 36
Authors: Tony Attwood & Michelle Garnett
Publishing year: 2021

Take the test here:

NB: The 2021 update is timed, and the method used to determine the expression is recorded. This increases the significance of the results.

If you are doing this test as part of our assessment, please use the Answer sheet to record your answers (do NOT take screenshots of the test itself).


Dr. Natalie Engelbrecht’s rating: 3 stars for appropriate and respectful wording, 4 stars for clarity & lack of ambiguity, and 4 stars for testing accuracy.

Dr. Natalie Engelbrecht’s rating: 3 stars for appropriate and respectful wording, 4 stars for clarity & lack of ambiguity, and 4 stars for testing accuracy.


Who the test is designed for

  • Adults (age 16+) with ASD level 1 or subclinical autism.
  • Adults with IQ in the normal range (IQ >=80).

Versions & translations


Instructions

The Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test consists of 36 photographs, each giving you four choices.

For each set of eyes, choose which word best describes what the person in the picture is thinking or feeling. You may feel that more than one word is applicable, but please choose just one word, the word which you consider to be most suitable. Before making your choice, make sure that you have read all four. Aim to do the task quickly and accurately—your accuracy and time taken are both scored.

    1. Once you have read the instructions, complete the practice item. Do not worry about what the answer is; the point of the practice item is for you to understand what to do.
    2. Now you are ready to begin the test. Start the timer and complete the 36 test items. Stop the timer once you have completed all 36 items and write the number down.
    3. Please do not review the scoring until the test is complete, as it will affect your scores.

Scoring

Scoring is based on 3 items:

1. The total time taken to complete the test.
  • Neurotypical: 2–3 minutes.
  • Autistic: > 3 minutes.
2. Each item is scored as correct or incorrect. Total your correct items.
3. Your process in taking the test.
  • Neurotypical: intuitive.
    • When you ask an NT how they arrived at the answers, they will most often say that they just knew what the expression was.
  • Autistic: systemizing.
    • When you ask an autistic about the answers, they will usually say that they based them on their knowledge of facial expressions. They may say they guessed or that they used a process of elimination.

Performance

In the table below, you can see the performance on the Revised Eyes Test and the AQ.[2]The ‘Reading the mind in the eyes’ test revised version: A study with normal adults, and adults with Asperger Syndrome or High-Functioning autism (Baron-Cohen et al., 2001)

Table of the performance on the Revised Eyes Test and AQ


Validity

The RMET is a reliable instrument to assist in diagnosing autistic adults. The Eyes test is reliable and stable over 1 year.[3]The “Reading the Mind in the Eyes” test: Systematic review of psychometric properties and a validation study in Italy (Vellante et al., 2013)


Discussion

Dr. Natalie Engelbrecht pointing to the title ‘Discussion’.
Dr. Natalie Engelbrecht:

In 2021, Prof. Tony Attwood and Dr. Michelle Garnett updated the test from scoring solely based on 1. accuracy to include scoring based on 2. timing and 3. the method used to assess the emotion. These updates explain why many autistics, especially females, score well on the test. Autistics take longer to complete the test because they use systemizing rather than intuition. These differences are expressed in the longer time autistics take to complete the test and their explanation for figuring out which emotion the eyes convey.*

I scored 35/36, out of the range of both autistic and neurotypical scores. It took me 5 minutes—keeping in mind that I was likely faster as I had taken the test several times and I could remember the answer to a number of them. I interpret the expression based on my knowledge of eyes, which takes me longer. Neurotypicals know the expression intuitively.

  • Happiness: Contracts the orbicularis oculi around your eyes, making your eyes smaller and contracting the muscles under the eyes, and at the sides of the eyes.
  • Anger: Tightened eyelids, eyebrows lowered and drawn together. Eyes open wide and staring intensely.
  • Sadness: Inner corners of eyebrows pulled down and together. Upper eyelids drooping and looking down.
  • Surprise: Eyebrows raised, but not together. Upper eyelids raised, lower eyelids neutral.
  • Fear: Eyebrows raised and pulled together. Raised upper lids. Tensed lower lids.
  • Disgust: Lowered eyebrows, wrinkling at the bridge of the nose.

I do dislike that the test uses only caucasian faces. In addition, there seems to be gender bias in the emotions in that the male faces are more often angry faces, while the female faces are more often flirting.

Kendall:

When I did the eyes test 8 months ago, I scored 19/36. In a recent retaking, my score was 27/36. The 2nd took 12 minutes—I didn’t time the 1st. Using the process of elimination and sometimes simply guessing was my approach on both occasions. I believe my higher 2nd score is accounted for by remembering some of my initial errors.

Were word prompts not provided, 80% of the photos would be an out-and-out mystery to me. Thus, I was skeptical of the test’s workings and results. However, my score was consistent with autism. With many photos, I was close, but others were way off, for example, answering shy for 26, which is hostile. Or 29, where I answered irritated—the answer is reflective. The test is quick, straightforward, and easy to score. One of its more valuable aspects is pointing out the emotions I may need to take extra care in interpreting.


Dr. Natalie Engelbrecht pointing at a psychometric test.

Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test

Instructions | Score sheet

Practice

jealouspanicked
Embrace Autism | Reading the Mind in the Eyes test | Practice Example jealous panicked arrogant hateful
arroganthateful

1

playfulcomforting
Embrace Autism | Reading the Mind in the Eyes test | 1 playful comforting irritated bored
irritatedbored

2

terrifiedupset
Embrace Autism | Reading the Mind in the Eyes test | 2 terrified upset arrogant annoyed
arrogant annoyed

3

jokingflustered
Embrace Autism | Reading the Mind in the Eyes test | 3 joking flustered desire convinced
desireconvinced

4

jokinginsisting
Embrace Autism | Reading the Mind in the Eyes test | 4 joking insisting amused relaxed
amusedrelaxed

5

irritatedsarcastic
Embrace Autism | Reading the Mind in the Eyes test | 5 irritated sarcastic worried friendly
worriedfriendly

6

aghastfantasizing
Embrace Autism | Reading the Mind in the Eyes test | 6 aghast fantasizing impatient alarmed
impatientalarmed

7

apologeticfriendly
Embrace Autism | Reading the Mind in the Eyes test | 7 apologetic friendly uneasy dispirited
uneasydispirited

8

despondentrelieved
Embrace Autism | Reading the Mind in the Eyes test | 8 despondent relieved shy excited
shyexcited

9

annoyedhostile
Embrace Autism | Reading the Mind in the Eyes test | 9 annoyed hostile horrified preoccupied
horrifiedpreoccupied

10

cautiousinsisting
Embrace Autism | Reading the Mind in the Eyes test | 10 cautious insisting bored aghast
boredaghast

11

terrifiedamused
Embrace Autism | Reading the Mind in the Eyes test | 11 terrified amused regretful flirtatious
regretfulflirtatious

12

indifferentembarrassed
Embrace Autism | Reading the Mind in the Eyes test | 12 indifferent embarrassed sceptical dispirited
skepticaldispirited

13

decisiveanticipating
Embrace Autism | Reading the Mind in the Eyes test | 13 decisive anticipating threatening shy
threateningshy

14

irritateddisappointed
Embrace Autism | Reading the Mind in the Eyes test | 14 irritated disappointed depressed accusing
depressedaccusing

15

contemplativeflustered
Embrace Autism | Reading the Mind in the Eyes test | 15 contemplative flustered encouraging amused
encouragingamused

16

irritatedthoughtful
Embrace Autism | Reading the Mind in the Eyes test | 16 irritated thoughtful encouraging sympathetic
encouragingsympathetic

17

doubtfulaffectionate
Embrace Autism | Reading the Mind in the Eyes test | 17 doubtful affectionate playful aghast
playfulaghast

18

decisiveamused
Embrace Autism | Reading the Mind in the Eyes test | 18 decisive amused aghast bored
aghastbored

19

arrogantgrateful
Embrace Autism | Reading the Mind in the Eyes test | 19 arrogant grateful sarcastic tentative
sarcastictentative

20

dominantfriendly
Embrace Autism | Reading the Mind in the Eyes test | 20 dominant friendly guilty horrified
guiltyhorrified

21

embarrassedfantasizing
Embrace Autism | Reading the Mind in the Eyes test | 21 embarrassed fantasizing confused panicked
confusedpanicked

22

preoccupiedgrateful
Embrace Autism | Reading the Mind in the Eyes test | 22 preoccupied grateful insisting imploring
insistingimploring

23

contentedapologetic
Embrace Autism | Reading the Mind in the Eyes test | 23 contented apologetic defiant curious
defiantcurious

24

pensiveirritated
Embrace Autism | Reading the Mind in the Eyes test | 24 pensive irritated excited hostile
excitedhostile

25

panickedincredulous
Embrace Autism | Reading the Mind in the Eyes test | 25 panicked incredulous despondent interested
despondentinterested

26

alarmedshy
Embrace Autism | Reading the Mind in the Eyes test | 26 alarmed shy hostile anxious
hostileanxious

27

jokingcautious
Embrace Autism | Reading the Mind in the Eyes test | 27 joking cautious arrogant reassuring
arrogantreassuring

28

interestedjoking
Embrace Autism | Reading the Mind in the Eyes test | 28 interested joking affectionate contented
affectionatecontented

29

impatientaghast
Embrace Autism | Reading the Mind in the Eyes test | 29 impatient aghast irritated reflective
irritatedreflective

30

gratefulflirtatious
Embrace Autism | Reading the Mind in the Eyes test | 30 grateful flirtatious hostile disappointed
hostiledisappointed

31

ashamedconfident
Embrace Autism | Reading the Mind in the Eyes test | 31 ashamed confident joking dispirited
jokingdispirited

32

seriousashamed
Embrace Autism | Reading the Mind in the Eyes test | 32 serious ashamed bewildered alarmed
bewilderedalarmed

33

embarrassedguilty
Embrace Autism | Reading the Mind in the Eyes test | 33 embarrassed guilty fantasizing concerned
fantasizingconcerned

34

aghastbaffled
Embrace Autism | Reading the Mind in the Eyes test | 34 aghast baffled distrustful terrified
distrustfulterrified

35

puzzlednervous
Embrace Autism | Reading the Mind in the Eyes test | 35 puzzled nervous insisting contemplative
insistingcontemplative

36

ashamednervous
Embrace Autism | Reading the Mind in the Eyes test | 36 ashamed nervous suspicious indecisive
suspiciousindecisive

Answers

The table below shows the correct answers in bold and denoted with a black star (★). For easy comparison, we suggest opening this post in another window, so you can compare the table with the images of the test.

RMET answers
ItemOption 1Option 2Option 3Option 4
Pjealouspanicked ★arroganthateful
1playful ★comfortingirritatedbored
2terrifiedupset ★arrogantannoyed
3jokingflustereddesire ★convinced
4jokinginsisting ★amusedrelaxed
5irritatedsarcasticworried ★friendly
6aghastfantasizing ★impatientalarmed
7apologeticfriendlyuneasy ★dispirited
8despondent ★relievedshyexcited
9annoyedhostilehorriedpreoccupied ★
10cautious ★insistingboredaghast
11terrifiedamusedregretful ★flirtatious
12indifferentembarrassedskeptical ★dispirited
13decisiveanticipating ★threateningshy
14irritateddisappointeddepressedaccusing ★
15contemplative ★flusteredencouragingamused
16irritatedthoughtful ★encouragingsympathetic
17doubtful ★affectionateplayfulaghast
18decisive ★amusedaghastbored
19arrogantgratefulsarcastictentative ★
20dominantfriendly ★guiltyhorrified
21embarrassedfantasizing ★confusedpanicked
22preoccupied ★gratefulinsistingimploring
23contentedapologeticdefiant ★curious
24pensive ★irritatedexcitedhostile
25panickedincredulousdespondentinterested ★
26alarmedshyhostile ★anxious
27jokingcautious ★arrogantreassuring
28interested ★jokingaffectionatecontented
29impatientaghastirritatedreflective ★
30gratefulflirtatious ★hostiledisappointed
31ashamedconfident ★jokingdispirited
32serious ★ashamedbewilderedalarmed
33embarrassedguiltyfantasizingconcerned ★
34aghastbaffleddistrustful ★terrified
35puzzlednervous ★insistingcontemplative
36ashamednervoussuspicious ★indecisive

Recommended next steps

After the AQ, consider taking one of the tests below.

RAADS–R

Identifies adults who often “escape diagnosis”
due to a subclinical level presentation

CAT-Q

Measures camouflaging, and can account
for lower scores on other autism tests

Aspie Quiz

Identifies neurodivergence and
potential co-occurring conditions

Online autism tests can play an essential role in the process of self-discovery, and may inform your decision to pursue a formal diagnosis. For a formal assessment, please see a knowledgeable medical professional trained in assessing autism.


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References

This article
was written by:
dr-natalie-engelbrecht
Dr. Natalie Engelbrecht ND RP is a dually licensed naturopathic doctor and registered psychotherapist, and a Canadian leader in trauma, PTSD, and integrative medicine strictly informed by scientific research. And not only do I happen to be autistic, but my autism plays a significant role in who I am as a doctor and how I interact with and care for my patients and clients.

Disclaimer

Although our content is generally well-researched
and substantiated, or based on personal experience,
note that it does not constitute medical advice.

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