This morning on my walk into work, I couldn’t help but notice an older gentlemen biking past in the opposite direction starring at me. When instances like this happen, I usually combatively stare the other person back to let them know ‘It’s not OK to stare at people – it’s rude and creepy.’ But unfortunately, I was wearing sunglasses so he couldn’t see my furrowed eyebrows and fully puzzled gaze.
According to a new study from Cornell University published in the journal PLoS ONE, the eyes have it all, especially when it comes to assessing another person’s sexual orientation. Perhaps if I’d have gone sans-shades this morning, my pedestrian friend would’ve gotten the clear message that ‘Yes, I’m heterosexual, but no, I’m not interested.’
In their research, authors of the study found four trends: heterosexual men responded most to images of women, homosexual men responded most to images of men, homosexual women responded most to images of women, and heterosexual women responded to both images of men and women, but were more likely to engage in men.
In congruence with previous research that found a person’s pupils widen when he or she is sexually attracted to someone, this new study found similar links: That a person’s sexuality is revealed by the way their pupils react.
As reported by Fox News, lead study author Gerulf Rieger, pointed out that a person can’t hide what their eyes express. “The pupil reacts very quickly, and it is unconscious, so it’s a method that gives us a subconscious indicator of sexuality.”
To conduct the study, researchers showed 300 participants 30-second images of people of both genders performing a sexual act, and monitored the dilation of their pupils. Participants were also shown images of both men and women at the same time, and researchers monitored where their eyes spend the most time.
One interesting but not entirely new finding was that heterosexual women are aroused by both genders, researchers say. This, Sandra Witelson – a professor of psychiatry at the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine of McMaster University – is because of the way women’s brains are wired. “The female brain is not differentiated,” she said. “They don’t have as strong a response for only men as heterosexual men have for only women.”
Of the findings, Reiger said he was surprised at what pupils tell us concerning sexual preference. But that overall, he and his colleagues feel confident that pupil dilation tests can be used for determining trends in sexuality for large populations.
I suppose this means if you don’t want people to know exactly how you feel about them, stick with sunglasses. But for me? I may be going without for a while; I don’t want any suspicious passersby to be confused about where I stand.
August 6th, 2012