I like to think I know what makes men tick, but really I have no idea. I know my own husband to a pretty good degree and can read into things he does, but when it comes to analyzing why men do what they do — I don’t always get it. I don’t understand why we always see men in television and movies (and real life) ogling a woman walking by or why we hear the stereotype that men don’t look women in the eye when they speak.
Turns out men aren’t the only culprits — women do it, too! A new study published in the October 2013 issue of Sex Roles Journal used eye-tracking technology and a study group and found that men and women both spend more time looking at a woman’s body than her face.
Using photographs, the researchers tracked the eye movement and gaze time of 29 women and 36 men from a large Midwestern University in the U.S., asking the participants to focus on the appearance of the women in the photographs. The photographs contained images of women with varying shapes that “fit cultural ideals of feminine attractiveness to varying degrees, including high ideal (i.e., hourglass-shaped women with large breasts and small waist-to-hip ratios), average ideal (with average breasts and average waist-to-hip ratios), and low ideal (i.e., with small breasts and large waist-to-hip ratios).”
While the study only had the participants focusing on the body shape of the women, it’s still pretty interesting. Lead researcher and social psychologist Sarah Gervais of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln hypothesizes the results of the study may be evolutionary-based. “Men may be drawn to more shapely women for childbearing — while women may be checking out their competition.”
When all the data and results were in, the study concluded:
Consistent with our main hypothesis, we found that participants focused on women’s chests and waists more and faces less when they were appearance-focused (vs. personality-focused). Moreover, we found that this effect was particularly pronounced for women with high (vs. average and low) ideal body shapes in line with hypotheses.
The results of the study are not that surprising to me, personally. Especially in our current society where we seem to all be overly-focused on body shapes with skewed ideals of what’s healthy and ideal, the results of this study seem to fit right there. I wonder if this means we, as women, don’t need to worry about any small face blemishes because apparently no one — man or woman — ever really looks up long enough to see that small pimple.
::Are you surprised at all by this? Share in the comments! ::
Photo credit: photostock
Source: “My Eyes Are Up Here: The Nature of the Objectifying Gaze Toward Women”
Sarah J. Gervais, Arianne M. Holland, Michael D. Dodd; Sex Roles Journal October 2013
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Devan is a freelance writer living in Toronto, Ontario with her husband, three kids and expecting baby #4 at the end of this year. Read more from Devan on Babble and “like” Accustomed Chaos on Facebook!