What Does Your Eye Color Say about You?

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When you’re batting those eyelashes, does it matter the color of the iris their blinking over?

Science says “maybe.”

[Read More: What Is the Best Eyelash Growth Serum]

Researchers have found correlations between perception, personality, and eye color. That means that not only does your eye color signify that you might have certain personality traits, it means other people might be judging you based on those. But is it true?

Why Do Eyes Have Color?

One of the most publicized theory about eye color differences is that they came about because of — what else? — sex.

The same cells that cause the rest of the colors in the skin and hair of the human body cause eye color: melanin. They’re a little different though; as the melanocytes keep the granules they produce for life (Cambridge Dictionary of Human Biology and Evolution). Interestingly light eye colors occur because there is no melanin in the surface layers of the iris, and the color is caused by the reflection of blue light.

Irises exist in order to help filter out some of the light that would otherwise distort vision. Those with light eyes are more sensitive to light because their irises block out less of that light (Duke Health).

One of the things that has stumped scientists is why there is a diversity in European eye color. Researcher Peter Frost argued that there was a shortage of men because hunting and gathering caused many to die younger and that this meant women competed for male mates.

This caused pressure on sexual selection and studies have shown that those who appear different in a group also tend to be considered more desirable. Since those with distinct looks are more like to obtain partners, their features were more likely to be passed on, causing diversity in eye and hair color (Evolution and Human Behavior).

Does Eye Color Affect Perception?

According to one study, this man seems more trustworthy than someone with lighter eyes.

People tend to associate eye color with different traits. As it turns out, one study found that brown-eyed men appeared more trustworthy than blue-eyed men. They had participants judge photos of both men and women with brown and blue eyes and found that while participants seemed to find those with brown eyes more trustworthy for both sexes, the trend was particularly strong for men (New York University).

But what’s odd? The fact that when researchers swapped the eyes colors of those in the photographs, participants still preferred the people who had naturally brown eyes, even when their eyes seemed to be blue. The researchers theorized that this was because those with brown eyes tended to have more of a “baby-face” and were therefore more likely to be trusted.

The researchers subscribe to the theory of sexual selection that Frost proposes, and so think that light eyes and more diversity are a tradeoff for appearing less trustworthy.

Does Eye Color Affect Personality?

One study found. based on surveys, that light-eyed people were more aggressive.

An Australian study looked at whether individuals with different eye colors possessed different personality traits. Using surveys, the researchers looked to test whether the kind of appearance competitiveness involved in Frost’s theory could be applied to the behavior competitiveness, meaning light-eyed people would be naturally more competitive (Current Psychology).

The researchers found that of those who answered the survey — 336 participants: 266 female, 70 males — those with light eyes were more competitive than those with brown eyes. And other studies have found that light-eyed women tend to score higher in extroversion and extroversion sociability than dark-eyed women; while men had about even scores (Perceptual and Motor Skills).

However, other studies have shown no significant difference in personality between dark- and light-eyed people.

Possible Explanations

Could the tie between hair color and stereotypes also explain our perceptions of eye color?

Explanations range across the board as to why these findings may be. It seems likely that the fact that light-eyed people tend to be more competitive than their dark-eyed counterparts may play into why dark-eyed people are more trustworthy. But, then again, perhaps these conventions cause light-eyed people to be more competitive to compensate.

Researchers have considered whether the way children are raised and individuals of different eye colors are treated plays a role in how they act. In fact, the researchers did not look at whether hair color was a factor in any of these, particularly since light-eyed people tend to have lighter hair. Studies have shown that hair color has a profound effect on how people are viewed and treated.

[Read More: Do Gentlemen Really Prefer Blondes?: A Look at How Hair Color Affects How People See You]

They’ve also considered that, because light-eyed individuals tend to have a fourth finger that’s longer when compared to their second finger that they’ve been exposed to more oestrogen/testosterone in the womb. This would be a biological explanation of the personality predisposition.

Bottom Line

Your eye color might play a role in your personality and how people perceive you, but the evidence is pretty inconclusive. It’s interesting to theorize about how eye color variability might have occurred and what role in plays in socializing. And it’s also fascinating to think about whether physical differences could be markers of psychological differences as well.

But that doesn’t mean that all the findings are totally true, and if they are, that they’re true for the reasons the researchers have considered.

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  • Natalie Bell

    Hello Janessa!

    Thank you so much! I thought it was an interesting series of studies as well, and I’m glad you enjoyed reading about them. I think the explanations are probably more complicated than simply eye color, as you’ve suggested here.


  • Janessa

    Love this post! I’ve never read anything on eye color linking to behavior. As for the brown eyes correlating to baby faces… I believe it’s because brown eyes are so much more common, especially in ethnic groups with softer features. Lighter hued features are often found in people with stronger angles and depth of their facial bone structure. Height may affect the ‘aggressive’ nature as well.

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