redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online
While ladies often accuse the men they are romantically involved with of scoping out other women, new scientific research suggests that it is the females themselves that are more likely to do the ogling.
According to Stephen Adams, Medical Correspondent for The Telegraph, researchers from Bristol University recruited subjects and had them review a series of images, including some screen captures from nature documentaries and other films, as well as classical and surrealist artwork.
The film images “included one of the final scenes from Love Actually, starring Hugh Grant and Martine McCutcheon, where the pair appear on a school stage together,” and another “from the 1961 classic Breakfast at Tiffany´s, in which Audrey Hepburn´s tightly-wound character Holly Golightly tussles over a table lamp with her tenant Paul Varjak, played by George Peppard,” Adams explained.
The Bristol University researchers gauged how much time both men and women spent looking at each of the male and female characters in those pictures, as well as what part or parts of the individuals caught the participants’ attention, he said.
Women spent 61-percent of their time looking at McCutcheon and Hepburn and only 39-percent focusing on Grant or Peppard, while men spent 53-percent of their time staring at the actresses and 47-percent of their time looking at the actors. Furthermore, men were more likely to focus on the ladies’ faces, while the women’s eyes tended to survey their entire bodies, Adams added.
“This is counter-intuitive from a sexual perspective if you are thinking about desire, but it´s not surprising if you look at it in terms of sexual competition,” lead author Felix Mercer Moss, a PhD student in the university’s computer science department, told The Telegraph.
Moss suggests that the female study participants “might be checking out their sexual rivals, and comparing themselves with them,” though he notes that that theory is only “speculation” and that he has “no proof whatsoever” to support that hypothesis.
“The researchers also found that women tended to avoid looking directly at the eyes of people in the pictures, male or female, directing their gaze just below, to the nose or mouth, when looking at the face,” Adams added.
“Men had no such qualms, looking at Grant, Peppard, McCutcheon and Hepburn straight in the eye,” he added — a phenomenon that the researchers believe may be caused by women being “more sensitive to the negative consequences of making direct eye contact.”
Results are published in the Nov. 30 edition of PLoS ONE.