It's All in the Eyes: Women and Men Really do See Things Differently

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). The researchers used an eye tracking device 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.

They found 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 per cent accuracy. Given the very large sample size the researchers suggest this is not due to chance.

Lead author Dr Antoine Coutrot from QMUL's School of Biological and Chemical Sciences said: "This study is the first demonstration of a clear gender difference in how men and women look at faces.

"We are able to establish the gender of the participant based on how they scan the actors' face, and can eliminate that it isn't based on the culture of the participant as nearly 60 nationalities have been tested. We can also eliminate any other observable characteristics like perceived attractiveness or trustworthiness."

The participants were asked 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 was around 15 minutes. At the end of the session the researchers collected personality information about the participants through questionnaires.

Co-author Dr Isabelle Mareschal also from QMUL's School of Biological and Chemical Sciences added: "There are numerous claims in popular culture that women and men look at things differently - this is the first demonstration, using eye tracking, to support this claim that they take in visual information in different ways."

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

The research was funded by the Leverhulme Trust and EPSRC and involved researchers from University College London and University of Nottingham.

Antoine Coutrot, Nicola Binetti, Charlotte Harrison, Isabelle Mareschal, Alan Johnston.
Face exploration dynamics differentiate men and women.
Journal of Vision 2016;16(14):16. doi: 10.1167/16.14.16.

Most Popular Now

Leading Health Systems Sign On to Delive…

Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA), a global leader in health technology, has announced the expanding adoption of its Population Health Management solutions with health systems across the globe, including...

Pflegetiger Adds Digital Health Ventures…

Since summer 2016, Pflegetiger has been developing its innovative concept of neighborhood care, a concept designed to make in-home care attractive for care professionals again. The company's revolutionary approach -...

Can Virtual Reality be Used to Manage Pa…

Virtual reality has emerged into popular culture with an ever-widening array of applications including clinical use in a pediatric healthcare center. Children undergo necessary yet painful and distressing medical procedures...

MSD Innovation Factory is Looking for Di…

MSD is looking for innovators to solve 7 health-related challenges. One of them seeks to support anaesthesiologists with their continuous education (e.g. at the operation room) or their team building...

Integrated Lab-on-a-Chip Uses Smartphone…

A multidisciplinary group that includes the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Washington at Tacoma has developed a novel platform to diagnose infectious disease at the point-of-care...

Free iPhone App could Guide MS Research…

For some diseases, a simple blood test is all that's needed to estimate severity or confirm a diagnosis. Not so for multiple sclerosis. No single lab test can tell doctors...

Giving Rookie Dads the Online Info they …

Expectant and new parents often turn to the internet for parenting prep, but it turns out that dads often don't seem to find the information they say they need about...

B.Braun Accelerator Call for Innovative …

B. Braun is one of the world's leading providers and manufacturers of healthcare solutions today. The company employs more than 60,000 employees in 64 countries and is looking for European...

Artificial Intelligence to Evaluate Brai…

Researchers at the University of Helsinki and the Helsinki University Hospital (HUH), Finland, have developed software based on machine learning, which can independently interpret EEG signals from a premature infant...

'NHS Cyber Security Batsignal' Peer-to-P…

The two chairs of the largest independent communities of NHS digital leaders will launch the 'NHS Cyber Security Batsignal', a new peer-to-peer cyber security warning alerting system, at the first...

New Highlights in the Programme for MEDI…

13 - 16 November 2017, Düsseldorf, Germany. The number of people in Germany who work in the health sector has increased to more than seven million for the first time during...