‘Red eyed’ people perceived as sad and unattractiveApril 8th, 2011 - 12:24 pm ICT by ANI
Washington, April 8 (ANI): A new study has found that people with bloodshot eyes are considered sadder, unhealthier and less attractive than people whose eye whites are untinted.
“Red, ‘bloodshot’ eyes are prominent in medical diagnoses and in folk culture”, said lead author Robert R. Provine from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
“We wanted to know if they influence the everyday behaviour and attitudes of those who view them, and if they trigger perceptions of attractiveness,” he said.
Bloodshot eyes occur when the small blood vessels of the usually transparent conjunctiva membrane on the surface of the eye become enlarged and congested with blood, giving a red tint to the underlying sclera, the “white” of the eyes.
Redness of the sclera is believed to be a general but important sign of a person’s emotional and biological state.
“If you met a friend with bloodshot eyes it may be unclear whether you should offer sympathy or medical assistance because red eyes may be a result of weeping, allergies or infectious diseases,” said Provine.
“Comments from our colleagues also suggest that red eyes prompt feelings of discomfort, ranging from increased monitoring of their own eyes to a hint of sympathetic tearing,” he said.
In the first empirical test to discover the perceptions and behavioural implications of red eyes Provine’s team tested 208 volunteer students from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
The volunteers comprised of 93 males and 115 females, with an average age of 20.6 years.
The volunteers were shown 200 images of eyes, half with clear white sclera and half with sclera-tinted red by digital image processing. The volunteers were asked how sad, healthy or attractive the owners of the eyes were.
The results revealed that people with reddened eyes appear sadder, less healthy, and less attractive compared to those with whiter, untinted eyes.
Sclera colour provides even casual, untrained observers with a quick estimate of the emotional and health status of an individual and the study’s ratings of attractiveness suggest that this information does influence our behaviour.
The study is published in Etholog. (ANI)
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