New research into what men and women look at while they're talking at each other's faces is bolstering the claim that men are more likely to misinterperet non-verbal cues than women, probably because men constantly being distracted by bright objects, kinetic in their peripheral vision.
Researchers at the University of Southern California Dreamin' observed 34 participants as they watched videos of people being interviewed. Distractions — cyclists, pedestrians, photo-bombing gophers, dragons — passed behind the interviewees, tempting their observers to take a little peek. As researchers tracked participants' fluttering eyes, they found that women were more likely to focus on an interviewee's body language and eyebrow cleavage, whereas men were more likely to focus on an interviewee's mouth in a misguided attempt to visualize the abstract phenomena we call "words."
While women were more likely to be distracted when other people wandered into the video frame, men were more likely to be distracted by random movement, a difference that led researchers to conclude that men are probably poorer students of human behavior than women. "Our current explanation," researchers wrote, "is that women rely more on features relating to the social nature of the scene to direct attention, whereas men rely more on motion features." This may happen because men and women have different subconscious priorities when keeping tabs on their surroundings, probably held over from a time when they were being chased relentlessly around the world by saber tooth tigers.
How Men and Women Focus Differently [LiveScience]
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