What kind of woman catches your eye? One whose curved body resembles a Coke bottle or one whose body more resembles that of a fish? It’s obvious, but it's also scientifically proven: we’re more likely to notice and continuously gaze at a woman whose body is curvy and whose breasts are large, a new study says. But before you go calling men dogs, take note: women do it just as much.

“We live in a culture in which we constantly see women objectified in interactions on television and in the media. When you turn your own lens on every day, ordinary women, we focus on those parts too,” Sarah Gervais, lead author of the study and social psychologist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, told USA Today. “Until now, we didn’t have evidence people were actually doing that to women’s bodies. We have women’s self-reports, but this is some of the first work to document that people actually engage in this.”

Although the results might have already been obvious, Gervais says objectifying women’s bodies could have evolutionary purposes — for men, at least — because of the tendency to look for women with traits indication an ability to bear children. But women also took longer glances, possibly to self-objectify, and evaluate the other woman in comparison to themselves — they could have been checking out their competition, Gervais told USA Today.

The Eyes Spend Time On The Curves

For the study, 29 women and 36 men were hooked up to eye-tracking tools that measured how long their eyes lingered on an object in milliseconds. They were shown 10 photos of different women, each with three digitally-altered versions of their bodies. There was the curvaceous body, with large breasts, wide hips, and a small waist; the almost-overweight body; and then the in-between body. When participants were asked to assess their bodies based on appearance rather than personality, all participants tended to focus more on the breasts, hips, and waist. The curvaceous women were also the ones who elicited the longest stares in these areas.

When male participants were asked to speculate on the women’s personalities, every man rated the curvaceous women more positively. “Generally speaking, people are more positive towards a more attractive woman than a less attractive one,” Gervais said in a statement. “However, attractiveness may also be a liability, because while evaluating them positively, ‘gazers’ still focus less on individualizing and personalizing features, such as faces, and more on the bodies of attractive women.”

How Society Objectifies Women

Previous research by Gervais found that people don’t look at men in the same way as they see women. Her study found that while both men and women individualize body parts (local visual processing) in women, such as the breasts, hips, and waist, they look at men as a whole (global visual processing). Another study, conducted by a group of men — of course — came to a more peculiar conclusion about why men become fixated on breasts: it goes back to our breastfeeding days.

Unfortunately, our culture promulgates the “perfect” look for women. The effect that this misguided collective body image has had on women’s confidence has caused plenty of issues for women. Many choose to undergo cosmetic surgery to change their bodies to better fit societal expectations. Breast implant surgery has been the top cosmetic procedure for over a decade, according to the American Society for Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). A recent study found that women who underwent the procedure reported more sexual satisfaction, but some experts believe the feelings stem from the effort taken to get the desired look.

“Our good feeling is increased because of the effort, not the thing itself … Feminine heterosexuality is very much about our sense of whether or not we are pleasing our partner, and here we have 45 women who have spent a great deal of money to that purpose. If these breasts are now pleasing to their male partners, then they are likely to feel more sexually attractive.”

Source: Gervais S, Holland A, Dodd M. My Eyes Are Up Here: The Nature of the Objectifying Gaze Toward Women. Sex Roles. 2013.