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Automatic direction of spatial attention to male versus female stimuli: a comparison of heterosexual men and women

Snowden, Robert Jefferson, Curl, Catriona, Jobbins, Katherine, Lavington, Chloe and Gray, Nicola S. 2016. Automatic direction of spatial attention to male versus female stimuli: a comparison of heterosexual men and women. Archives of Sexual Behavior 45 (4) , pp. 843-853. 10.1007/s10508-015-0678-y

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Abundant research has shown that men’s sexual attractions are more category-specific in relation to gender than women’s are. We tested whether the early automatic allocation of spatial attention reflects these sexual attractions. The dot-probe task was used to assess whether spatial attention was attracted to images of either male or female models that were naked or partially clothed. In Experiment 1, men were faster if the target appeared after the female stimulus, whereas women were equally quick to respond to targets after male or female stimuli. In Experiment 2, neutral cues were introduced. Men were again faster to female images in comparison to male or neutral images, but showed no bias on the male versus neutral test. Women were faster to both male and female pictures in comparison to neutral pictures. However, in this experiment they were also faster to female pictures than to male pictures. The results suggest that early attentional processes reveal category-specific interest to the preferred sexual category for heterosexual men, and suggest that heterosexual women do not have category-specific guidance of attentional mechanisms. The technique may have promise in measuring sexual interest in other situations where participants may not be able, or may not be willing, to report upon their sexual interests (e.g., assessment of paedophilic interest)

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Additional Information: First online: 08 February 2016 This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
Publisher: Springer
ISSN: 0004-0002
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Date of Acceptance: 7 December 2015
Last Modified: 26 Dec 2017 20:43

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