Sex differences in attention to disgust facial expressions

Cognition and Emotion 31 (8):1692-1697 (2017)
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Abstract

Research demonstrates that women experience disgust more readily and with more intensity than men. The experience of disgust is associated with increased attention to disgust-related stimuli, but no prior study has examined sex differences in attention to disgust facial expressions. We hypothesised that women, compared to men, would demonstrate increased attention to disgust facial expressions. Participants completed an eye tracking task to measure visual attention to emotional facial expressions. Results indicated that women spent more time attending to disgust facial expressions compared to men. Unexpectedly, we found that men spent significantly more time attending to neutral faces compared to women. The findings indicate that women’s increased experience of emotional disgust also extends to attention to disgust facial stimuli. These findings may help to explain sex differences in the experience of disgust and in diagnoses of anxiety disorders in which disgust plays an important role.

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