Customer Experience Labs recently participated in an international eye tracking study led by Miratech, a user research firm based in France. The purpose of the study was to measure both the international and gender differences to a visual stimuli of an attractive woman, which can be seen below.
We collaborated with six other companies around the world in the first ever international eye tracking study of this nature.
The participating firms were:
Some of these partners are members of the International Usability Testing Partnership - IUTP - a network dedicated to user testing and consumer research. The IUTP is supported by Tobii, a leading developer of eye tracking equipment.
Methodology (aka Test Procedure)
Each firm recruited 15 men and 15 women from a variety of ages and socio-economic backgrounds, for a total of 210 subjects from 7 countries.
After an initial ice breaker, including a brief eye calibration procedure, the participants were then asked to view the visual stimuli. Participants viewed the stimuli for 20 seconds each and no other directions were provided.
Tobii eye trackers captured data throughout the testing period. After the test, subjects were asked to complete a questionnaire about the woman in the picture to see how exposure to her image impacted their perceptions of (and about) her.
Our Research Findings
One of our findings might not exactly be surprising: Men lingered on the woman’s chest.
You might be wondering, just how much more did men stare at the chest than women?
Quite a bit it turns out – their eyes remained on the chest 37% longer than women.
While the gender difference was negligible for the first 2 seconds of viewing time, the longer the men viewed the prompt, the longer their eyes fixated on the chest.
Video – Men’s viewing behaviors
This video shows a sample of men from around the world viewing the stimuli. As you can see, the visual scan behaviors appear similar across countries.
People have asked us – Were they doing this because that’s what men “naturally do”?
Or because they had nothing else to look at?
We suspect it reflects a legitimate gender difference, and it would be a fertile topic for future research.
Women’s viewing behaviors of the Model’s Ring
Also we noticed that the women dropped their gaze to inspect the model’s ring finger and the ring she was wearing.
It appears they were evaluating whether she was engaged/married or otherwise considered to be “taken.”
One hypothesis is that this may reflect some evolutionary behavior of scanning other women at a subconscious level to quickly determine if they are available and perhaps a “threat” to their relationship.
This represents some interesting evolutionary considerations for sure.
And of course, the tongue-in-cheek title is derived from a sensationalistic take on these two data points.
However, humor and PR aside, there are many additional findings which we found noteworthy.
How did participants evaluate her face?
For example, across all genders and nationalities subjects spent the most time viewing the face. In fact, male participants spent 12% more time viewing the face than females.
Another interesting finding is where on the face each gender focused their attention; females were drawn to the eyes while males focused on the lips.
What cross-cultural differences were observed?
Well, it turns out that if men are pervs then French and Danish men are the biggest pervs.
French and Danish men alike spent almost double the amount of time on the chest than their male counterparts in other countries!
And it also seems that both French men and women have one thing in common, they both viewed the chest for a nearly equal amount of time.
The disparity of viewing times between men and women was the smallest for French participants.
The Danish, on the other hand, had the largest disparity in viewing times – Danish men spent 106% more time viewing her chest than Danish women.
Now let’s move on to the ring.
Overall, females viewed the ring 27% more than men.
However, the results were not uniform across international borders.
The extended gaze of the English and Danish women spent much more time viewing the ring than their female counterparts in other countries and this had a big impact on the “average” viewing time.
In fact, English women spent 149% more time on the ring than English men.
The gender difference across countries was almost negligible when it came to the ring with the exception of the UK and Denmark.
In the USA, Brazil and the Netherlands the men actually spent a slightly longer time viewing the ring.
Now back to the title: Men are pervs and women are golddiggers. It sure is provocative and attention grabbing.
And at least if you are reading this far, well it grabbed your attention and hopefully persuaded you to be interested enough to read this far…
…but is it true?
We really can’t say definitively at this point. There are many other factors we need to take into account.
In the case of the ring, perhaps the women wanted to evaluate her accessories (as you can see above the women also checked out her belt)
Or maybe the contrast of the ring on the finger drew female gaze.
Or perhaps the women were evaluating whether she was single (as mentioned above) and considered a “threat” to themselves at a deep, reflexive and largely unconscious level.
Maybe even the women were evaluating if the prompt was single and therefore a “threat”.
There are a lot of possibilities for future research and lots of differences of options.
What do you think of this research?
Please let us know. Contribute to the conversation and leave a comment!
The complete 158 page report is available on Miratech’s website here. We appreciate Miratech asking us to participate in this research and for allowing us to share the data with you.
Special thanks to Jen Hruska for her valuable efforts in collecting the data for this project. And thanks to Jared Comis, our Fall 2011 intern, for his assistance with drafting this article. Calos Marin Burgos, our Summer 2011 intern, assisted with participant recruitment.