Gender and Visibility of Sexual Cues Influence Eye Movements While Viewing Faces and Bodies

Brain Research Unit, O.V. Lounasmaa Laboratory, School of Science, Aalto University, 00076, Espoo, Finland, .
Archives of Sexual Behavior (Impact Factor: 3.53). 03/2012; 41(6). DOI: 10.1007/s10508-012-9911-0
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Faces and bodies convey important information for the identification of potential sexual partners, yet clothing typically covers many of the bodily cues relevant for mating and reproduction. In this eye tracking study, we assessed how men and women viewed nude and clothed, same and opposite gender human figures. We found that participants inspected the nude bodies more thoroughly. First fixations landed almost always on the face, but were subsequently followed by viewing of the chest and pelvic regions. When viewing nude images, fixations were biased away from the face towards the chest and pelvic regions. Fixating these regions was also associated with elevated physiological arousal. Overall, men spent more time looking at female than male stimuli, whereas women looked equally long at male and female stimuli. In comparison to women, men spent relatively more time looking at the chests of nude female stimuli whereas women spent more time looking at the pelvic/genital region of male stimuli. We propose that the augmented and gender-contingent visual scanning of nude bodies reflects selective engagement of the visual attention circuits upon perception of signals relevant to choosing a sexual partner, which supports mating and reproduction.

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    • "For example, naturally cycling women had more first looks toward, spent more time viewing, and had a higher probability of greater attention to the genital regions of photographs depicting heterosexual intercourse, where erect penises would be visible (Rupp & Wallen, 2007). Nummenmaa and colleagues (2012) reported that women's visual fixations on male genitals were significantly longer than on female genitals. We believe that the most parsimonious explanation for our novel pattern of results is the nature of our sexual stimuli. "
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    ABSTRACT: Heterosexual women respond genitally to stimuli featuring both their preferred and nonpreferred genders, whereas men's genital responses are gender-specific, suggesting that gender cues are less relevant to women's sexual response. Instead, prepotent sexual features (exposed and sexually-aroused genitals), ubiquitous in audiovisual sexual stimuli, may elicit automatic genital responses, thereby leading to a nonspecific sexual arousal pattern in women. To examine the role of stimulus potency in women's sexual response, we assessed heterosexual women's and men's genital and subjective sexual arousal to slideshows of prepotent stimuli (erect penises and aroused vulvas), non-prepotent stimuli (flaccid penises and female pubic triangles), and sexually-neutral stimuli. Contrary to our hypotheses, both women and men demonstrated gender-specific genital and subjective sexual arousal, such that sexual arousal was greatest to prepotent male and female stimuli, respectively. This is the first study to demonstrate gender-specific genital responding in heterosexual women.
    Biological Psychology 10/2014; 102(1). DOI:10.1016/j.biopsycho.2014.07.008 · 3.40 Impact Factor
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    • "attractiveness are correlated with ratings of their body-only attractiveness, but the correlations are just moderate in magnitude (Peters et al., 2007; Thornhill & Grammer, 1999), which suggests that cues from the face and cues from the body are not entirely redundant. Second, findings from studies that ask men to evaluate women's faces and bodies imply that female faces andbodies provide non-redundant information.For example, in eye-tracking studies, men attend not just to women's faces but also to their breasts and waist-hip area (Dixson et al., 2011a); in fact, when men view nude images of women, their attention is biased away from the face and toward the chest and pelvic regions (Nummenmaa et al., 2012). Moreover, when men consider women in the context of short-term relationships, for which current fertility is of primary importance, they attend more to women's bodies than when they consider women in the context of a long-term relationship (Confer et al., 2010; Lu & Chang, 2012). "
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    ABSTRACT: Women's faces and bodies are both thought to provide cues to women's age, health, fertility, and personality. To gain a stronger understanding of how these cues are utilized, we investigated the degree to which ratings of women's faces and bodies independently predicted ratings of women's full-body attractiveness. Women came into the lab not knowing they would be photographed. In Study 1 (N = 84), we photographed them in their street clothes; in Study 2 (N = 74), we photographed women in a solid-colored two-piece swimsuit that revealed their body shape, body size, and breast size. We cropped each woman's original photo into an additional face-only photo and body-only photo; then, independent sets of raters judged women's pictures. When dressed in their original clothes, women's face-only ratings were better independent predictors of full-body attractiveness ratings than were their body-only ratings. When cues displayed in women's bodies were made conspicuous by swimsuits, ratings of faces and bodies were similarly strong predictors of full-body attractiveness ratings. Moreover, women's body mass index and waist-to-hip ratio were tied to ratings of women's body attractiveness, with waist-to-hip ratio more important among women wearing swimsuits than among women wearing their original clothes. These results suggest that perceivers attend to cues of women's health, fertility, and personality to the extent that they are visible.
    Archives of Sexual Behavior 05/2014; 43(7). DOI:10.1007/s10508-014-0304-4 · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    • "An analysis of both real-life and would-be scenarios supported our prediction that the color red is preferred on the upper parts of bodies, although there is not a restriction for this preference among women. These findings are consistent with the overall attractiveness of human bodies; men looking at the body of a woman primarily gaze at a woman's face and chest (Hewig et al. 2008; Nummenmaa et al. 2012), and the upper parts seem to be most attractive for men. From an evolutionary perspective, this preference may be driven by bipedal locomotion in humans and a shift from primary attraction on the part of males to female genitalia (i.e. the lower parts of bodies) to permanent breasts (i.e. the upper parts of bodies) (Morris 1967). "
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    ABSTRACT: Among certain non-human primates, the red-colored genitalia of females are a sexual ornament and attract males. The preference for red clothes among women is at times explained as being a parallel. We used here a within-individual design to investigate the signaling role of the color red with a sample of Slovak participants. As expected, women preferred red clothing both in real-life and would-be situations more than men. The pref- erence for red (but not for other colors) in mating game scenarios was only significant for women, but not for men. A preference for the color red was shown in particular for clothes on the upper parts of the participants’ bodies, irrespective of gender. Women who were actually involved in a romantic sexual relationship had a preference for red in would-be situations more than single women, although the menstrual cycle, the total number of lifetime sexual partners, and self-perceived attractiveness were not associated with the preference for the color red. Our results support the sexual signaling hypothesis which suggests that women use the color red to attract potential mates in a similar way as non-human primates.
    Ethology 05/2013; 119(7). DOI:10.1111/eth.12102 · 1.79 Impact Factor
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