The “Reading the Mind in the Eyes” Test Shows Poor Psychometric Properties in a Large, Demographically Representative U.S. Sample


The Reading the Mind in the Eyes test (RMET) is a widely used measure of theory of mind (ToM). Despite its popularity, there are questions regarding the RMET?s psychometric properties. In the current study, we examined the RMET in a representative U.S. sample of 1,181 adults. Key analyses included conducting an exploratory factor analysis on the full sample and examining whether there is a different factor structure in individuals with high versus low scores on the 28-item autism spectrum quotient (AQ-28). We identified overlapping, but distinct, three-factor models for the full sample and the two subgroups. In all cases, each of the three models showed inadequate model fit. We also found other limitations of the RMET, including that nearly a quarter of the RMET items did not meet the criteria for inclusion in the RMET that were established in the original validation study. Due to the RMET?s weak psychometric properties and the uncertain validity of individual items, as indicated by our study and previous studies, we conclude that significant caution is warranted when using the RMET as a measure of ToM.

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