Are You Looking at Me?

Think you’re good at determining when someone of the opposite sex is looking at you? It turns out how easy it is may depend more on the other person than you—specifically, how masculine or feminine the other person’s face looks.
A team of researchers led by Ben Jones of the Face Research Lab at the University of Aberdeen asked volunteers to look at images of faces that had been altered to look more or less masculine or feminine and then indicate as quickly as possible whether the face was looking at or away from them. The researchers found the exaggerated features resulted in faster response times: Women could more quickly determine whether a man was looking at her when his face was “hunky,” while men could tell the direction of a woman’s gaze faster when her features were feminine and “pretty.” In other words, we’re quicker to notice when a “high quality potential mate” is paying attention to us.
As Jones explains in a write-up of the study:

There’s likely to be quite a big advantage to detecting when a particularly good potential mate’s looking at you. If I’m in a bar and there’s a pretty woman looking at me—if I wasn’t married—I would want to catch her eye before someone else did.

Category: Findings

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