October 29, 2013
Eye-Tracking Study Shows Men And Women Check Out Female Bodies
[ Watch the Video: Eye-Tracking Study Scopes Out Some Chicks ]
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com - Your Universe OnlineFor the first time, researchers have used sophisticated eye-tracking technology to prove that women are often objectified by men. Interestingly enough, however, the study also found women were just as likely to objectify the female body, though for different reasons.
According to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) study, when men were asked to judge a woman based on her physical appearance alone, they were more likely to prefer a woman with an hourglass shape. Women with these body shapes were also regarded more highly when men were asked to make assumptions about her personality by looking at only a picture.
Women with smaller tops and larger bottoms were not ranked as highly. Women were just as likely to linger on certain parts of the female body as well, though UNL researchers Sarah Gervais and Michael Dodd say they presume the women are likely comparing themselves to others. Their new study is published in the Springer journal Sex Roles.
Dodd and Gervais recruited 65 male and female college students from a large Midwestern university and hooked them up to an eye-tracking device which recorded where the men were looking and for how long. They then showed them 30 pictures of 10 college-aged women, each digitally manipulated to either enhance or diminish sexualized body parts such as the breasts or the waist.
When these images were flashed in front of the men’s eyes, they were more likely to dwell on the breasts and waists of the women, and this was especially so when these areas were more prominent in the more curvaceous photos. The men were also observed to quickly fixate on the woman’s face, but did spend more time on the woman’s body.
Dodd and Gervais then asked the men to make assumptions about the woman’s personality based solely on the digitally manipulated pictures. The women who were photoshopped to have more curvaceous features were perceived more favorably by the men than the women with narrower figures.
Gervais says she was surprised to find that the women were just as likely as men to focus on the sexualized body parts in the modified images. According to their study, both men and women were quick to stare at body parts before faces, but Gervais says some women were more likely to fixate on the face first.
“We do have a slightly different pattern for men than women, but when we looked at their overall dwell times – how long they focused on each body part – we find the exact same effects for both groups,” said Gervais in a statement.
Gervais says anecdotal evidence supports the eye tracking results which show that men fixate on the breasts and waists, but says she assumes women do the same because they’re comparing themselves to other women.
A 2011 study by University of Maryland psychologist Kurt Gray found men and women were more likely to view one another differently when skin was involved. According to this study, when either gender showed more skin, the opposite sex was more likely to view them as a vulnerable sex object more willing to make questionable moral choices.