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Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Hey! Look me in the eye...and only the eye.

When you look at a full body photograph of another person, what about them draws your eye first, or most?

While you think about your answer, try this on: According to world-renowned "usability" expert Jakob Nielson, if you're a woman you tend to focus on the subject's face. If you're a man, however, you're likely to hone in on the face and the crotch...regardless of whether the picture subject is a woman or another man.

Hey, don't kill the messenger. I'm just sharing here.

In a demonstration for online news editors studying the best news page layout designs, reported on by the Online Journalism Review earlier this year, Nielson conducted an eye-tracking test on 255 New Yorkers - 58% of them female, 42% male. No scientific explanation was given as to why men seem drawn to nether regions in pics, and women seem content to keep their eyes above the shoulders.

Among the different photographs studied during the one- to two-hour-long test, was one of Major League Baseball legend George Brett, bat in hand, mid swing.

This picture, from the OJR Web site, shows where "on" Brett male test subjects looked, and where female test subjects looked.


Hmmm. Fellas, I can't speak for you, but I'm pretty sure I don't spend any time ogling goodie bags. I can't give you scientific proof. You'll just have to take my word for it.

When I think about all the people I encounter every day, I admit I tend to give most of them the once over at first sight - you know, the quick head to toe glance. But focusing on the nether regions? Nah. I'd like to know a little more about the guys who took this eye-tracking test.

At any rate, if the test results weren't unsettling already, according to OJR men don't just eyeball crotches in photographs of other humans. "We" do it with pictures of animals too. Again, I'm just the messenger here. But OJR says "Men tend to fixate more on areas of private anatomy on animals as well, as evidenced when users were directed to browse the American Kennel Club site."

What!!!!!

Just what I needed: something else to feel self conscious about. Already I'll be spending a little less time studying photographs of male athletes on news Web sites - note to self, from now on skip pictures of cyclists, football players, swimmers, and track & field types, and any other men who wear tights or grape smugglers. Now, next time I see my dog licking himself, I think I'll leave the room and give him some privacy. Wouldn't want him to think I was staring. Nor would I want to think, if he could talk, that he'd stop and tell me "Why don't you take a picture already? It lasts longer."

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35 Comments:

  • nice blog

    By Blogger mi despertar, at 8:45 AM  

  • You are so gonna stare at the next dog you see licking!!!

    This is a hoot--maybe they picked 255 freaks.

    By Blogger Turnbaby, at 10:07 AM  

  • Women might not hone in on the crotch areas, but I can tell you from personal experience, we don't just look at faces. Introduce someone to a man and a woman, and when you ask later, the woman will be able to describe what the other person was wearing, down to shoes. The man? Not so.

    We look all over. We just probably don't stare all over.

    By Blogger SWF42, at 10:45 AM  

  • when i lokk at someone, i imagine that my eyes are lasers and that i'm buring a hole through their crotch... what? is there something wrong with that?

    By Blogger minijonb, at 12:45 PM  

  • I'm suspicious of the results of that study, partly because, as SWF42 said, women notice what folks are wearing far more than men. I'd like to see the details of the study.

    At any rate, I tend to notice things like general shape of the face and the hair.

    Thanks for visiting my blog and recommending me to your friend.

    By Blogger Charles Gramlich, at 2:12 PM  

  • I think that from now on I'm just going to look up at the sky while I'm walking through town.

    I do admit though that I do tend to look at whatever is being presented to me to look at. If a woman is wearing a low cut shirt I will look there. If she is wearing a short skirt I'll look at her legs. I'll always look at her butt, but that's a guy thing.

    Unfortunately if somebody has something hanging from his/her nose or a great big zit on his/her forehead I'll stare at that too.

    By Blogger Jay, at 3:14 PM  

  • OMG! lol, this is compelling and disturbing evidence that has come to light!! :) Thanks for sharing.

    Thanks for stopping by too!

    By Blogger Aunt Jackie, at 3:51 PM  

  • Oh, and I think that I probably stare at the face first and I know I check out the rest of it--I admittedly stare at the crotch of photos, but i'm not sure what species this extends to... **scratches head**

    By Blogger Aunt Jackie, at 3:53 PM  

  • Get right outta town. I don't do that, either.

    By Blogger Lightning Bug's Butt, at 4:44 PM  

  • grape smugglers...
    oh I'm going to use that phrase next time my husband and his cycling buddies come by in their peacock parade. (:

    By Blogger Pamela, at 4:53 PM  

  • I suspect it is so that the men know EXACTLY who they are talking to. You never can tell some times and I think men act/talk differently to men than they do to women.

    By Anonymous Karmyn R, at 5:02 PM  

  • This is funny. I wonder what would come out of the study if there was a female photo. I know too many women who check out other womens "girls".

    By Blogger My Reflecting Pool, at 6:09 PM  

  • I will stare at any crotch that's crying out for some staring. There's a lot of camel toes and moose knuckles out there people.

    Thanks for stopping by. Do me a favor and speed dial Henry Rollins and let him know a hot-Asian- tattooed-shut-in-ninja who hates everyone too would like to fondle his guns. In fact, Henry Rollin's Guns would be a great name for a band.

    FYI: For lawyerly reasons, I've recently moved to www.frankily-yours.com. Hope you'll come visit me there.

    By Blogger Lee, at 6:16 PM  

  • And it's a good thing we didn't see them the way this photo has them. The good parts are all covered!! :)

    By Blogger Dan, at 6:47 PM  

  • GAH! Did the tight white baseball pants have anything to do with the results?

    By Anonymous girlsnap, at 7:09 PM  

  • We gotta check there first to see if it's worth it to continue.

    By Blogger The Sarcasticynic, at 7:30 PM  

  • Um, maybe a holdover from when men wore tights and agonized in verse over whether to live or die?

    By Blogger heartinsanfrancisco, at 8:03 PM  

  • That's funny, the crotch is one of the first areas I look at. On a man at least. I know. I'm such a perve.

    By Blogger GrizzBabe, at 11:30 PM  

  • mi despertar, thank you.

    turnbaby, no way i'm staring, and i think you're right. the test subjects had to be freaks.

    swf42, your premise is even more disturbing. so women look at crotches too, but men stare? we need help.

    minijonb, perfectly normal ;>)

    charles, i have to admit i'm still a little skeptical on the results. based on the women i know, i'd think women stare at specific body parts more than men, especially that region of the body.

    jay, i agree. growths and odd head thingies are fair game. but yeah, whatever's in my face is what i'll look at. and if it's something i'd rather not see, like a male crotchal area or a dimpled rear-end in biker shorts, i turn away quickly.

    aunt jackie, let us hope that unlike the test subjects here your crotch staring only extends to humans. i still want to know where they got the subjects.

    lbb, that makes two of us. i swear, i can't ever think of a time i checked out a crotch in a photo that wasn't a nudie pic...from when i was in high school.

    pamela, you are more than welcome to use "grape smugglers" when you see the cyclists coming. if i come up with a better description - 'cause that one's not an original Burnettiquette - i'll pass it on.

    karmyn r, that makes sense in conversation in a crowd of androgynous people. but what excuse do the guys have when looking at photos...of easily identifiable men like george brett?

    my reflecting pool, i think checking out "the girls" is universally excused, 'cause men and women can be curious about size. but checking out the nether regions baffles me still, at least when it comes to average joe checking out average joe. and no, i'm not making some sort of sexual orientation slight. i'm just curious.

    lee, as always, your theory is sound. if i talk to henry any time soon, i'll let him know he has a fan in you.

    dan, ha! the "good parts." depends on who's looking.

    girlsnap, i hope not.that would mean average joe has a hankering for tight baseball pants. not that there's anything wrong with such a hankering.

    sarc, again, that makes sense, i think, when average joe is looking at average jane, but what explanation would you give for ogling the nether region of average joe in a photograph?

    heartsinsanfran, ha ha ha ha ha ha!

    grizzbabe, you are a perv. i'm gonna pray for you ;>)

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 11:15 AM  

  • Perhaps this is the human male version of canine crotch sniffing.

    By Anonymous calmerthanyouare, at 11:19 AM  

  • my first thought was the whole "survival of the fittest" deal when primitive man would size up his competition to find a female to mate with, so to speak.... ??? :-)

    By Blogger cucuclaire, at 12:26 PM  

  • calmerthanyouare, that is the best theory i've seen yet.

    claire, where've you been? and your theory makes a lot of sense too. btw, i had a blast in vegas. it was hotter than any place on the surface of the earth should be. but it was fun.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 1:31 PM  

  • Simple, James.

    Step 1. Look at crotch. Determine sex.

    Step 2. Girl? Look at breasts. Boy? Might as well look at face.

    By Blogger The Sarcasticynic, at 4:47 PM  

  • sarc, your theory makes sense w/ live encounters, but like I asked everyone else how do we explain dudes fixating on crotches in pictures or on crotches on dogs on the kennel club web site too.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 5:42 PM  

  • "Nah. I'd like to know a little more about the guys who took this eye-tracking test."

    Was the test given in San Francisco?

    By Blogger BobG, at 5:49 PM  

  • very funny, bob g. believe it or not it was given in nyc.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 6:44 PM  

  • I guess I would have thought that both sexes would have been checking out each others genital, and the competition's genitals too instinctually to keep replacing the population. There is this survival of the fittest competition going on all the time.

    By Blogger The CEO, at 8:36 PM  

  • Do they say how long the fixation lasts?? If the entire glance at Mr Brett were just two seconds until the next slide displays, then that might match the "live" performance expectations.

    In that case, the "fixation," according to the report, would be just about 1/4 of a second, or thrice what The Sarcasticynic spends on the hang-up.

    By Blogger The Sarcasticynic, at 9:10 PM  

  • ceo, i would have assumed the same thing about both sexes. i think what freaked me out more than the fact that men stared at genital areas more than women, was that men apparently do it with other species too. what's that all about?

    sarc, what i was able to read of the study didn't list a duration for the staring. however, i did say the red areas, as marked on the bottom of the brett photo represented longer looks, i believe.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 9:38 PM  

  • Actually, I'm more interested in why the women were so disinterested. Maybe the bat threw them off.

    By Blogger The Sarcasticynic, at 6:35 AM  

  • sarc, if that bat threw them off i'd like to see the guys they're acccusomed to socializing with.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 8:24 AM  

  • Well, if you do see them, James, just look at their faces!

    By Blogger The Sarcasticynic, at 4:41 PM  

  • will do, sarc. not falling into that trap!

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 11:19 PM  

  • That's it. I am so getting my bikini line waxed tomorrow.

    By Blogger Queen of Dysfunction, at 11:37 PM  

  • Queen, all I gotta say is stay waxed! You're a celebrity now. Never know who's gonna have a zoom lens aimed at you from down the block ;>)

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 9:07 PM  

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