The Mysteries of the Diagonal: Gender-Related Perceptual Asymmetries

Judith Avrahami, Taly Argaman and Dvora Weiss-Chasum

The paper reports a perceptual asymmetry for the two diagonals that is related to gender such that females prefer the diagonal spanning from top-right to bottom left (/) while males the opposite one (\). This relationship is observed in a variety of tasks: Aesthetic judgment of paintings, spotting differences between two paintings, and visual search for a tilted line among similarly tilted distractors. The paper does not provide an explanation of the relationship between this asymmetry and gender but rules out several potential mediating factors, such as eye dominance, head tilt, handedness, and hemispheric differences. At the same time, the paper does outline the scope of the phenomenon: The asymmetry is found both for meaningful and for meaningless stimuli and both at brief and at extended presentation. Moreover, the asymmetry is found related to the tilt of the visual elements that require processing not to their location in the visual field.

February, 2004
Published in: 
Perception & Psychophysics (In Press)