Eye Movements When Looking at Potential Friends and Romantic Partners

Arch Sex Behav. 2017 Nov;46(8):2313-2325. doi: 10.1007/s10508-017-1022-5. Epub 2017 Jul 6.


Eye movements of 105 heterosexual undergraduate students (36 males) were monitored while viewing photographs of men and women identified as a potential mate or a potential friend. Results showed that people looked at the head and chest more when assessing potential mates and looked at the legs and feet more when assessing potential friends. Single people looked at the photographs longer and more frequently than coupled people, especially when evaluating potential mates. In addition, eye gaze was a valid indicator of relationship interest. For women, looking at the head corresponded to greater interest in friendship, whereas for men looking at the head corresponded to less interest in friendship. These findings show that relational goals and gender may affect the way people scan their environment and search for relevant information in line with their goals.

Keywords: Attraction; Chest; Eye-tracking; Friendship; Mating; Waist-to-hip ratio.

MeSH terms

  • Eye Movements / physiology*
  • Female
  • Fixation, Ocular / physiology
  • Friends
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sexual Behavior / physiology*
  • Sexual Partners*