©Arlene R. Taylor PhD
Males tend to have a long-range narrow, tunnel-vision style. Think of their brains as having a metaphoric built-in set of binoculars. (of course, building a set of binoculars takes time and that may be part of the reason it takes the male brain 1.6 years long to mature as compared to the female brain.
In general, males may find it easier to locate items that are further away (e.g., signs, markers, hunting quarry). They may also be less distracted by other things in the environment as they hone in on the quarry, whatever that is. The flip side is that it can be more difficult and take additional energy to try to find items on a desk, in a cupboard, in the refrigerator, or on a shelf.
Females on the other hand tend to have a short-range, wide, peripheral-vision style. No binoculars. Typically they find it easier to locate specific items in cupboards, drawers, and refrigerators as their vision takes in more of the immediate environment. Their flip side is that when driving on a busy freeway, by the time they can read the exit sign there may be insufficient time for them to move over four lanes and leave the freeway safely. In such cases they're more likely to go to the next exit and then return. A CHP joked once, rather tongue in cheek, that "women spend a lot more time on the freeway.)
It is possible that this vision style difference, along with the increased upper and lower body strengh the average male has (as compared to an average female of similar size) may have contributed to the division of labor in the hunter-Gatherer Societies.
Being able to see further might give the male an advantage when stocking game with a bow and arrow, a spear, or even with a gun.
Summary of Selected Vision Differences
• Have more of the smaller, thinner P ganglion cells that are designed to process color and texture.
• Have a thicker retina containing more of the larger, thicker M cells that are “motion detectors,” so typically need to move around more than do girls.
• Are prewired to be more interested in faces
• Are prewired to be more interested in moving objects
• Tend to be more sensitive to colors such as red, orange, green, and beige as P cells are prewired to be more sensitive to them.
• Tend to be more sensitive to colors such as black, gray, silver, and blue because M cells are prewired to be more sensitive to them.
• When helping a girl with her school assignment, smile and look her in the eye.
• When helping a boy, sit or stand shoulder to shoulder and spread materials in front of you, and avoid telling him to "look at me."
• Role-playing or writing essay on “how you feel” can be an effective exercise.
• Drawing a map or deconstructing a passage of text analytically can be an effective exercise.
NOTE: This information refers to a style of vision rather than to actual visual acuity (e.g., 20/20 vision).