Have you ever been on a date and wondered if the other person was romantically or sexually attracted to you? Well, wonder no more! Researchers studying eye patterns have found that where your date focuses their eyes on you could reveal whether he or she is romantically or sexually attracted.
Specifically, the findings reveal that eye patterns center on a stranger’s face if the viewer regards that person as a potential romantic love partner, whereas the viewer focuses more on the other person’s body when the feeling is one of sexual desire. Though this may seem like an obvious progression, researchers say that automatic judgment can happen as quickly as half a second, producing contrasting gaze patterns.
The research team, from the University of Chicago, has published their results in the journal Psychological Science.
For this study, researchers had male and female university students view a series of black-and-white photos of strangers. The participants examined photos of young, adult heterosexual couples who were interacting with each other. Then, in another part of the study, the participants looked at photos of attractive people of the opposite sex who were looking directly at the camera.
None of these photos contained nudity or erotic images, note the researchers.
For both parts of the study, the participants sat in front of a computer and were asked to decide as quickly as possible whether the people in the photos drew out feelings of sexual desire or romantic love.
The time it took for the subjects to identify romantic love versus sexual desire did not differ significantly, which the researchers say shows that the brain can quickly process both emotions.
However, after analyzing the eye-tracking data, the researchers found that people tended to fixate their eyes on the face when the image evoked a feeling of romantic love, whereas when the images elicited sexual desire, the viewers’ eyes moved from the face to focus on the rest of the body.
And this result was the same for both male and female participants.