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Eye Movements Reveal Difference Between Love, Lust and Friendship

Eye Movements Reveal Difference Between Love, Lust and Friendship Created: Feb-13-2020

Did you know that you may be able to glean insight into whether someone is interested in pursuing a relationship with you just by watching their eyes? In honour of Valentine’s Day, we’re taking a closer look at how to read people based on recent research on eye gaze and personal connection.

A 2014 study has suggested that if a person’s eyes are focused on your body it indicates their intentions are more lustful. Alternatively, if a person is looking directly into your eyes, their body language is indicative that they are more interested in pursuing a romantic relationship. The Psychological Science journal used eye-tracking technology to determine that eye gaze can differentiate between desire and love. The research was conducted to provide singles with more information on a first date’s intentions, aside from dialogue.

Eye gaze is a surprisingly rich source of information about one’s interest, intentions, and goals. Data from a person’s gaze is collected in order to gather information on a wide variety of subjects, including advertising appeal. To collect data, an eye-tracking device is attached to a pair of glasses that records where people look and how they move their gaze. Using software, the patterns and length of time a person looks at an area of a screen, a person, or at any visual display, can provide much in the way of information.

In this experiment, a total of 20 college students (13 women and seven men) viewed a series of pictures of people they had never met before. Subjects were asked to look at each photograph and indicate as quickly as possible what they thought. The results proved that subjects who looked directly into the person’s eyes were experiencing feelings of romantic desire.

In 2017 a similar study examined eye movements and their potential connection to forming friendships or romantic relationships. Undergraduate students were monitored when looking at photographs of potential friends or romantic partners. The study suggests that those looking for romantic partners looked at the head and chest areas more, while those looking for friends focused more on legs and feet. Additionally, single individuals looking for a mate stared at the photographs for a longer period. This reinforces the common idea that eye contact and gaze is an indicator of interest and could potentially be a sign of attraction.

Of course, there are many other telltale signs to determine if someone is interested in getting to know you more, which don’t require scientific confirmation. Your best bet is to observe body language. The following behaviours show intentions of more than simply physical attraction.

How to tell if someone might like you:

Pupils dilate

Eyebrows are raised

Front teeth are showing due to smiling

Leaning forward when talking

Walking next to you at the same speed – not too fast or slow

We know there are many factors that influence interest and desire, and many of these develop over time. Tuning in to body language is one way to help understand intentions and mood, but there’s always the good ol’ fashioned “trust your gut”!

Read more about current scientific studies (like this blog on how your glasses affect first impressions) and what they can tell you about your vision and health on our News and Technology blog page.

Dr Frédéric Marchand, optométriste