Why do women get more attention

04/21/2015 10:54

Attractive faces get more attention

Dr. Anne Klostermann Press and public relations
German Society for Psychology (DGPs)

Attractive faces attract attention: this is especially true for men who see beautiful women's faces. This is the result of a recent study by psychologists from the University of Vienna. In two experiments, they showed 80 test persons differently attractive faces of men and women. It turned out that beautiful faces - regardless of gender - are looked at longer than unattractive faces. But there are differences on the side of the viewer - between men and women.

It has long been known from research on attractiveness that certain features, such as the symmetry of a face, are generally rated as beautiful. What is less well known is whether what you find beautiful also involuntarily influences attention. The research group around the cognitive psychologist Ulrich Ansorge investigated the question of whether the attractiveness of faces has an impact on attention and on rapid, sudden eye movements - and whether there are possibly gender differences.

Glances stay longer on beautiful faces

In the first experiment, they showed 40 test subjects on the computer pictures of differently attractive male and female faces. After one second, a point also appeared on the screen and the participants' task was to look at this point as quickly as possible. It was recorded how long it took until the point was fixed and the movements of the eyes. After completing several test runs, the test subjects also assessed all faces with regard to their attractiveness.
It was found that attractive faces turned away from attention more slowly than less attractive faces. In other words, the viewer “sticks” longer with a beautiful face.

Men react faster to attractive female faces

In the second experiment, the researchers wanted to know whether beautiful faces attract the attention of women and men equally. To this end, 20 women and 20 men were shown two beautiful faces of different sexes on the screen at the same time. First, you should fix a point in the center of the screen between the faces. After a short time a green frame appeared around one face and a yellow frame around the other. The participants should direct their gaze as quickly as possible to the face in the yellow frame. Sometimes there was the face of a beautiful woman in the yellow frame, sometimes the face of a beautiful man.

Here, too, the authors analyzed the speed of reaction and eye movements. They found that male test subjects reacted more quickly to attractive female faces than to attractive male faces - while there was no such effect in female test subjects. Women reacted equally quickly to both attractive men and attractive women's faces.

The subjective assessments of attractiveness in both experiments also showed that men rated women's faces as more attractive than the faces of other men.
“Beautiful faces get more attention. We were able to show this with our analysis of gaze behavior. We have limited ourselves primarily to the beauty of faces, but our methods can easily be applied to other objects and questions, ”says Christian Valuch, who carried out the study.

"A better understanding of human attention is also relevant for the good design of teaching materials and media content, such as books or videos, and clinical research, which is increasingly interested in attention processes," adds Prof. Ulrich Ansorge.

You can find the original study here:
Valuch, C., Pflüger, L. S., Wallner, B., Laeng, B., & Ansorge, U. (2015). Using eye tracking to test for individual differences in attention to attractive faces. Frontiers in Psychology, 6:42. doi: 10.3389 / fpsyg.2015.00042

Additional Information:
Christian Valuch
Research platform Cognitive Science
University of Vienna - Faculty of Psychology
Liebiggasse 5
A-1010 Vienna
Tel. (0043) 1 4277 22009
Email: [email protected]
Web: http://homepage.univie.ac.at/christian.valuch/

Univ.-Prof. Dr. Ulrich Ansorge
Professorship for Cognitive Psychology
University of Vienna - Faculty of Psychology
Liebiggasse 5
A-1010 Vienna
Tel. (0043) 1 4277 47140
Email: [email protected]
Web: https://homepage.univie.ac.at/ulrich.ansorge/

Press office of the DGPs:
Dr. Anne Klostermann
Public Relations Officer
Marienstrasse 30th
10117 Berlin
Tel .: 030 28047718
Email: [email protected]

More information:


Criteria of this press release:
Psychology, social studies
transregional, national
Research results