Brain Sees Girls As Parts And Guys As Whole

Brain Sees Girls As Parts And Guys As Whole

A quick look at the magazine rack in any supermarket checkout …

A quick look at the magazine rack in any supermarket checkout line will say to you that girls are often the focus of sexual objectification.

Now, a new study discovers that the brain in fact processes pictures of girls differently than those of guys, contributing to this trend. Girls are more likely to be viewed apart by the brain and seen as parts rather than a whole, according to the study published online June 29 in the European Journal of Social Psychology. On the other hand, guys are processed as a whole rather than the sum of their parts.

Sarah Gervais, a research author and a psychologist at the University of Nebraska (Lincoln), told that every day usual girls were being reduced to their sexual body parts. This isn’t just something that porn stars or supermodels have to deal with. Lots of researches have discovered that feeling objectified is bad for girls. Being ogled can make girls do worse on math tests and self-sexualization, or scrunity of their own shape, is connected with body shame, poor mood and eating disorders.

But those finding were all focused around the perception of being sexualized or objectified, Gervais said. Together with her colleagues she wondered about the eye of the beholder: Are persons actually objectifying girls more than guys?

To figure out, the study-goers focused on two kinds of mental processing, local and global. Global processing is how the brain depicts objects as a whole. It tends to be used when recognizing persons, where it’s not just necessary to know, for instance, the shape of the nose, but also how the nose sits in relation to the eyes and mouth. Local processing focuses more on the personal parts of the object. You might recognize a house by its doors, for example, while you are less likely to recognize an individual’s arm without the advantage of seeing the rest of their body.

After seeing an entirely dressed individual from head to knee and a short pause, participants saw two new pictures on their screen: One that wasn’t modified and contained the unique picture, the other a slightly modified version of the unique picture with a sexual body part changed. If girls are sexually objectified, persons should process their bodies in a more local way, focusing on personal body parts like tits. To test the hypothesis, Grevais and her colleagues provided two nearly identical experiments with the whole of 227 undergraduate participants.

Each person was displayed non-sexualized images, each of either a young guy or young girl, 48 in common. After seeing each unique full-body photograph, the participants saw two side-by-side pictures. One was the unique image, while the other was the unique with a slight change to the waist or breast (picked up while these are sexualized body parts). Participants had to choose which picture they’d seen before.

In some situations, the second set of pictures zoomed in on the tits or waist only, asking participants to choose the body part they’d seen previously version the one that had been changed. The results displayed a clear schism between the pictures of the guys and girls. While watching pictures of women, participants were better at recognizing personal parts than they were matching entire-body images to the originals. The opposite was true for images with guys: Persons were better recognizing a man as a whole than they were his personal parts.

Participants were also better at discerning girls’ personal body parts than they were at guys’ personal body parts, further confirming the local processing, or objectification that was happening. Cervais told, it’s both guys and girls doing this to women, so don’t curse the guys here. The second experiment held by the researchers showed that the body-part task with photographs of letters made up of a mosaic of tiny letters – an H made up of hundreds of little Ts, for instance.

They said to some participants to identify the tiny letters, prompting their brains to engage in local processing. Other participants were asked to identify the capital letters, revving up global processing. These latter participants became less likely to objectify girls, the study-goers discovered. They no longer were better at recognizing a girl’s parts than her entire body. There could be evolutionary explanations that guys and girls process female bodies differently, Gervais told, but because both sexes do it, the media is perhaps a prime suspect.

She said that girls’ bodies and their body parts were used to sell all kinds of products, but we were then for every day, usual girls, processing them in an identical way. Thankfully, the fact that the simple letter-mosaic task swept the effect away provides the idea that it’s an easy habit to overcome, Gervais told. Being in a good mood is related to global processing, she told, so avoiding the sadness could help you see persons in a holistic way, as could simply reminding yourself to step back and look at the larger image.

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