Two experiments were undertaken with 3 goals: (a) to determine whether manipulating the desirability of including empathy as part of one's gender-role identity motivates accurate mind-reading, (b) to ascertain whether target readability moderates the strength of this effect, and (c) to test whether these effects are mediated by the complexity of perceivers' inferential strategies. Participants viewed videotapes of 2 couples discussing relationship problems and attempted to infer each partner's thoughts and feelings. Both experiments demonstrated that motivation improved accuracy when male and female perceivers valued the empathy-relevant aspects of the traditional female gender role. However, as predicted, high levels of motivation facilitated the accurate reading of easy targets but not of difficult targets. Several mediational models were tested, the results of which showed that the complexity of perceivers' attributions mediated the link between motivation and mind-reading accuracy.
Thomas, G., & Maio, G. R. (2008). Man, I feel like a woman: when and how gender-role motivation helps mind-reading. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95(5), 1165-1179. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0013067