Effects of Gender and Gaze Direction on the Visual Exploration of Male and Female Bodies
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The present study used eye-tracking to investigate whether a model’s gaze direction influences the way observers look at the entire body of the model and how this interacts with the observer and the model’s gender. Participants viewed individual male and female computer agents during both a free-viewing task and a rating task to evaluate the attractiveness of each character. The results indicated that both male and female participants primarily gazed at the models’ faces. Participants also spent more time scanning the face when rating the attractiveness of each model. Observers tended to scan faces with a direct gaze longer than faces with an averted gaze for both the free-viewing and attractiveness rating tasks. Lastly, participants evaluated models with a direct gaze as more attractive than models with an averted gaze. As these results occurred for pictures of computer agents, and not actual people, this suggests that direct gaze, and faces in general, are powerful for engaging attention. In summary, both task requirements and gaze direction modified face viewing preference.