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If you constantly have to yell, "Hey, my eyes are up here" to a first date, chances are he's not in it for the long haul. It doesn't take a scientist to figure that out—but a group of scientists just did, so now you have concrete proof.
A University of Chicago study (opens in new tab), recently published in the journal Psychological Science, sought to figure out the link between eye gaze and romantic intentions. Male and female participants, who were students at the University of Geneva, looked at black-and-white photos of strangers. After seeing each photo, participants had to say whether the photo evoked romantic love or sexual desire. In a later part of the study, participants did the same thing, but were told to simply think about their choice, while a computer tracked their eye movements.
The judgments were extremely quick—often less than half a second. But eye movements told the most striking story. When participants were asked whether a person in a photo was someone they could lust after, their eyes focused on the person's body more than their face. When the decision was about love, participants' eyes lingered more on the face. Which...duh? And though you might be quick to peg guys as the guiltier party here, there was no difference between male and female results.
"Visual attention reflects, in part, the features of a stimulus that are most relevant to a person's intentions or goals," the study explains (opens in new tab). So the next time you can't figure out where your relationship is going, just watch your date's eyes.
Photo Credit: Getty
Megan Friedman is the former managing editor of the Newsroom at Hearst. She's worked at NBC and Time, and is a graduate of Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism.
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