Subtle eye-tracking clues can tell you how your date feels!
It might be possible to tell if it’s love at first sight. A new study by University of Chicago researchers suggests the difference between love and lust can be seen in eye patterns as two people look at each other. An automatic judgment can occur in as little as half a second, producing different gaze patterns.
The eyes concentrate on a stranger’s face if the viewer sees that person as a potential partner in romantic love, but the viewer gazes more at the other person’s body if he or she is feeling sexual desire.
“Although little is currently known about the science of love at first sight or how people fall in love, these patterns of response provide the first clues regarding how automatic attentional processes, such as eye gaze, may differentiate feelings of love from feelings of desire toward strangers,” says lead author Stephanie Cacioppo of the report published in the journal Psychological Science.
Previous research by Cacioppo has shown that different networks of brain regions are activated by love and sexual desire. In this study, students viewed photographs of strangers in two settings. They decided as rapidly as possible whether they perceived each photograph or the couple in the photograph as eliciting feelings of sexual desire or romantic love.
The study found no significant difference in the time it took subjects to identify romantic love versus sexual desire, but analysis of the eye-tracking data revealed marked differences in eye movement patterns. Both males and females tended to fixate on the face when they said an image elicited a feeling of romantic love while the eyes moved from the face to fixate on the rest of the body with images that evoked sexual desire.
Co-author John Cacioppo says, “An eye-tracking paradigm may eventually offer a new avenue of diagnosis in clinicians’ daily practice or for routine clinical exams in psychiatry and/or couple therapy.”
For you right now, know that you have another clue in the complicated world of dating and relationships!