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Beauty Perceptions Differ In Men And Women


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By Margarita Nahapetyan

Beauty is viewed differently by men and women, suggests a new study, which found that women use the whole brain to process and absorb exquisiteness, while man use only the right hemisphere of their brain.

The study was led by Francisco Ayala - the Donald Bren Professor of Biological Sciences, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in the School of Biological Sciences, a professor of philosophy in the School of Humanities, a professor of logic and the philosophy of science in the School of Social Sciences, National Medal Of Science winner in 2001 and member of the National Academy of Sciences.

For the study, Ayala and a team of scientists from Spain involved 20 volunteers -10 men and 10 women, who had been tested while looking at paintings and photos of urban scenes and landscapes. All the participants then were asked to express their opinions on the artworks and to classify each scene as either "beautiful" or "not beautiful".

Simultaneously, the researchers from the University of California were investigating the magnetic field images which were produced by electrical currents in the brains of the male and female. They found that when women were contemplating a "beautiful" picture, neurons on both sides of their brain were stimulated. However, as to men, only neurons that are located on the right side have been found as active. To be more specific, the left hemisphere of human brain deals with objects that are arranged close by, while the right hemisphere pays more attention to co-ordinates.

According to Ayala, the findings might explain now as to why women are not able to read maps and men can look for a few hours things that are placed in front of their noses. Women by their nature usually pay more detailed attention to the objects surrounding them, even the ones that are of no importance at present moment. Women are more likely to base their knowledge on remembering locations and relative directions, such as 'left from', or 'to the right of.'" At the same time, men are trying to solve navigation issues by means of orientation which involves cardinal directions and distance concepts.

While women always like to dig more into details while examining or observing something, men tend to look just at the overall image using a more precise form of mental mapping. The experts assume that it might happen because female are using both global and local features when expressing opinion and making their judgments, whereas men only rely on global features.

Scientists tend to think that the reason both genders show such differences is due to their specific roles in evolution. Men were busy with hunting and searching the prey, therefore they acquired better navigation skills. Women, while seeking food, were spotting fruit, berries and nuts that were accessible nearby. Another assumption on such differences between male and female perceptions can be the language. "Women obtain higher scores on a diversity of verbal and language tasks. Perhaps women are more likely to associate the images with verbal labels than men," the researchers wrote.

The difference in the brains of men and women has been known for a long time, and the recent findings give a sufficient evidence and support to it. But experts still plan to continue with more investigation and research in this field before reaching any final conclusions.

The findings of the study are reported in the latest issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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