A team of researchers from Queen Mary University of London found that there are differences in the way men and women absorb visual Information, which affects their understanding of visual cues.
Study On Men And Women's Visual Cues
To understand how people look at faces, the psychologists carried out a study in a science museum involving 500 participants for a period of five weeks. An eye-tracking device was used to monitor and analyze how much eye contact men and women felt comfortable with while watching a face on the monitor.
It was observed from the study that women focused more on the left-hand side of the faces and were found to have strong left-eye bias. Women were also found to be observing the faces intensely than their male counterparts.
Gender Bias In The Way Faces Are Observed
The researchers said that from the way the subjects scanned the faces, it was possible to tell if the participant was a male or a female with accuracy of 80 percent. It is also noted that since the study involves a large sample size, the findings cannot be considering a mere coincidence.
Dr. Antoine Coutrot, the study's lead author, noted that the current study is first of its kind to establish that there is a huge gender bias in the way men and women observe the faces. It is also noted that the difference in the way the participants scanned the actors' faces is clearly because of the bias in the gender and not the cultural differences.
Since about 60 nationalities were involved in the study, the factors such as cultural differences, trustworthiness and attractiveness may have no role to play in the way the subjects scanned the faces.
Furthermore, the study subjects were asked to rate how comfortable they were to make eye contact with the actor in a platform such as Skype. The participants were made to see one of the eight actors' faces for a period of 15 minutes. They were also asked to fill out questionnaires for assessing their personality at the end of the test period.
Role Of Visual Cues In Research
Dr. Isabelle Mareschal, the coauthor of the study, said that it is claimed in recent days that there are differences in the way men and women look at things. The eye-tracking test support the growing body of evidence that the two groups could be processing the visual information differently.
The psychologists noted that the findings are of great importance in the field of research in autism diagnosis.
"The research was funded by the Leverhulme Trust and EPSRC and involved researchers from University College London and University of Nottingham," read the press release.
The study is published in the Journal of Vision.