It’s all in the eyes: Women and Men Really Do See Things Differently

Posted on December 2, 2016

Photo: flickr

Women and men look at faces and absorb visual information in different ways, which suggests there is a gender difference in understanding visual cues, according to a team of scientists that included psychologists from Queen Mary University of London (QMUL).

An eye tracking device was used on almost 500 participants at the Science Museum over a five-week period to monitor and judge how much eye contact they felt comfortable with while looking at a face on a computer screen.

Researchers found out that women looked more at the left-hand side of faces and had a strong left eye bias, but that they also explored the face much more than men. The team observed that it was possible to tell the gender of the participant based on the scanning pattern of how they looked at the face with nearly 80% accuracy. Given the very large sample size, researchers suggest this is not due to chance.

Dr Antoine Coutrot from QMUL’s School of Biological and Chemical Sciences highlighted that the study is the first demonstration of a clear gender difference in how men and women look at faces. Gender of participant can be established solely based on how they scan the actors’ face and culture of participants is eliminated as part of the factor as nearly 60 nationalities have been tested. Adding on, other observable characteristic such as perceived attractiveness or trustworthiness have also been eliminated.


The main objective was participants to judge how comfortable the amount of eye contact they made with the actor in a Skype-like scenario. Each participant saw the same actor (there were eight in total) during the testing period, which last about 15 minutes. Personality information about the participants were collected through questionnaires at the end of session.

The research team describe their findings in the Journal of Vision and suggest that gender difference in scanning visual information might cause an impact in many research fields, such as autism diagnosis or even daily behaviours like watching a movie or looking at the road while driving.

To read the full article, please click on link below.


Source material from Science Daily


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