There’s More to Humanity Than Meets the Eye : Differences in Gaze Behavior Toward Women and Gynoid Robots
Based on evolutionary psychological theories, numerous eye-tracking studies have demonstrated how people visually perceive a potential mate in order to efficiently estimate the person’s mate value. Companies are currently working on sexualized robots that provide numerous human-like visual cues which foster the visual resemblance to humans. To gain more elaborated knowledge on how people react to sexualized robots compared with humans, the present study empirically investigated whether heterosexual males transfer deep-rooted evolutionary psychological processes of mate perception to human-like and machine-like sexualized robots. Moreover, we aimed to learn more about the processes of orienting responses toward human and non-human stimuli and about potential predictors of visual attention to robots. Therefore, we conducted an eye-tracking study in which 15 heterosexual men, 12 homosexual men, and 18 heterosexual women were confronted with stimuli showing women, human-like gynoid robots and machine-like gynoid robots. For the sample as a whole, there was no difference in the amount of time spent looking at the human and non-human breasts. However, the results for the heterosexual males supported the assumption that human breasts attract more visual attention than do the breast areas of human-like and machine-like robots. The pelvic region yielded an unexpected gaze pattern, as all participants spent more time looking at the robotic pelvic area than at the human one, with more visual attention paid to the machine-like robots than to the human-like robots. The results of the viewing times toward the head revealed that all participants had a stronger need to gain visual information about the human head in comparison to the robotic heads, underlining the importance of authenticity in terms of emotions and motivations that can only be decoded in humans. Moreover, the study showed that individuals more frequently switched their visual attention toward different body parts of the robots in comparison to the female stimuli, implying that non-human sexualized representations evoked a higher need for visual exploration.