Biases in spatial bisection induced by viewing male and female faces

Zaira Cattaneo, Susanna Schiavi, Carlotta Lega, Chiara Renzi, Matteo Tagliaferri, Jana Boehringer, Claus Christian Carbon, Tomaso Vecchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Research on visual attention triggered by face gender is still relatively sparse. In the present study, three experiments are reported in which male and female participants were required to estimate the midpoint of a line (i.e., the "line bisection task"): at each end of the line a face was presented. Depending on the experimental condition, faces could be of the same gender (i.e., two males or two females) or the opposite gender. Experiments 1 and 2 converged in showing that when a male face was presented at the right and a female face at the left endpoint of the line, a clear rightward bias emerged compared to the other experimental conditions, indicating that male faces captured attention more than female faces. Importantly, male faces used across Experiments 1 and 2 were rated as more threatening than female faces, suggesting that perceived level of threat may have been responsible for the observed bias toward the male face. Experiment 3 corroborated this hypothesis by finding an attentional bias toward the male face with high threat (angry) faces but not with low threat (smiling) faces.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)368-377
Number of pages10
JournalExperimental Psychology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Bisection
  • Evolution
  • Gender effects
  • Opposite-gender bias
  • Own-gender bias
  • Sex
  • Spatial
  • Threatening faces
  • Visual attention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Psychology(all)
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Medicine(all)


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