MEN could have an evolutionary edge when it comes to computer games, according to a new study.

Scientists have discovered men react 10 per cent more quickly than women to an object that poses a risk.

Males are "significantly" quicker at recognising a weapon such as a gun or knife, an Australian study found.

Loading article content

However, when a threat is less obvious - for example, situations when the weapon was a pen or syringe - there is no difference between the sexes.

The findings could explain why men are often swifter on the draw in virtual reality games.

Danielle Sulikowski, a psychologist at Charles Sturt University in New South Wales, asked people to find guns, weapon knives, staplers and kitchen knives among images of household objects such as shoes, clocks, bowls, chairs, books, lamps, paint brushes, bottles and mugs.

In a second experiment, syringes and pens were added.

While men needed just over 900 milliseconds to spot a knife or gun, women took up to 100 milliseconds longer.

Women outnumber male games players, accounting for 58% of mobile gamers in the US and a similar proportion in the UK.

Writing in the journal Evolutionary Psychology, Ms Sulikowski said: "We predicted the guns and weapon knives would be located more quickly than the staplers and cooking knives, and that this bias would be larger in men.

"The male advantage to locate weapons was apparent whether the weapons were depicted wielded or not. There were no sex differences in time to locate any of the non-weapon targets."

It is her belief that the male advantage is an evolutionary adaptation giving men fast responses to threats.

"Currently and historically, men have engaged in more weapons-related activities - fighting and hunting - than women," she said.

"If biases of visual attention for weapons result from selection pressures related to these activities, we would predict such biases to be stronger in men."