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Real Men Don't Look Down: Direction of Gaze Affects Sex Decisions on Faces

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Classifying a face as male or female was shown to be reliably affected by the direction in which the face was looking-a variable apparently unrelated to reported features of the face that show sexual dimorphism. Decisions were slower when gaze was averted downwards. Furthermore, masculinity ratings were lower for men's faces looking down than for the same faces looking ahead. One high-level (configurational) face feature that varies with the sex of the face and with direction of gaze was identified. The vertical upper-lid-to-brow distance is smaller in men than in women and becomes less salient when eyes are averted down. This display feature may have evolved to signal gender quickly and reliably, especially in alert male faces.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 1996-12-01

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