Women and men are different. As humans are highly visual animals, these differences should be reflected in the pattern of eye movements they make when interacting with the world. We examined fixation distributions of 52 women and men while viewing 80 natural images and found systematic differences in their spatial and temporal characteristics. The most striking of these was that women looked away and usually below many objects of interest, particularly when rating images in terms of their potency. We also found reliable differences correlated with the images' semantic content, the observers' personality, and how the images were semantically evaluated. Information theoretic techniques showed that many of these differences increased with viewing time. These effects were not small: the fixations to a single action or romance film image allow the classification of the sex of an observer with 64% accuracy. While men and women may live in the same environment, what they see in this environment is reliably different. Our findings have important implications for both past and future eye movement research while confirming the significant role individual differences play in visual attention.
- Cognitive Science
- Visual Perception