Men And Women See Things Differently
July 30, 2009
Sex differences in how the brain processes visual information could be a legacy
of our hunter-gather past. This is the conclusion of a paper published online
today, 30th July 2009, in the British
Journal of Psychology.
In the visual task, carried out by Helen Stancey at Hammersmith & West
London College, men and women used a laser pointer to mark the midpoint of lines
on a piece of paper within hands-reach (50cm away) and again beyond hands-reach
(100cm away). The place where the 24 women and 24 men pointed to was marked, and
the distance from their mark to the actual midpoint was measured to judge their
Men were found to be more accurate than women at marking the middle of lines
when the target was far away than when it was close by. However, women showed
the opposite pattern; they were more accurate at finding the mid-point of the
line when the target was close to them than when it was further away.
Helen Stancey said: "Evidence already exists that separate pathways in the
brain process visual information from near and far space. Our results suggest
that the near pathway is favored in women and the far pathway is favored in men.
These sex differences in visual processing may be a result of our
hunter-gatherer evolutionary legacy. As the predominant gatherers, women would
have needed to work well in near space, whereas the prey for (predominantly
male) hunters would have been in far space."
In a second study, participants were asked to do the same task, but were asked
to point to the mid point using a stick rather than a laser pointer. In this
study, no significant differences between near and far accuracy were found in
either men or women, suggesting that the stick provides feedback which makes the
brain process distant information as if it's in near space.
Women were found to be significantly better than men at both distances using the
stick, which supports the earlier finding that women process visual information
better from near space than men.
British Journal of Psychology
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