When women view still images from films and pictures of art they make fewer eye movements, linger longer on an image and look at different locations than men; especially images of people.
Women focused more on female images when they saw heterosexual couples, as did men. But women looked longer and explored more of the image.
Images presented to the couples included scenes from movies like “The Sound of Music”, “Inside Man,” and The Blue Planet and artwork like "People in the Sun" and "Three Graces.”
The study included 26 men and 26 women and was led by Felix Mercer Moss, a vision researcher and doctoral student at the University of Bristol
in the UK.
Women tend to focus their gaze away from the face compared to men.
Mercer Moss said in a press release
, "Women may be attaching more risk to looking people in the eye.”
Researchers know there are differences between how men and women view things, but past studies have focused on differences between genders when they see emotional or sexually explicit images.
Moss wanted to understand how men and women are different when they see more general images.
"The study represents the most compelling evidence yet that, despite occupying the same world, the viewpoints of men and women can, at times, be very different,”, Mercer Moss said.
"Our findings have important implications for both past and future eye movement research together with future technological applications."
The authors concluded men and women see things differently because they really do interpret the world differently.
Women may be more sensitive to avoiding threat while men look for things that are potentially threatening.
The study, published in the journal PLoS ONE
suggests women and men and women literally do see the world differently, but the reasons why still need more research.