The Look Of Love

Posted: Wednesday 13th February 2019

As well as your pupils dilating in low light, did you know that they also enlarge as a sign of excitement, attraction or love? So setting the scene for a romantic dinner with the lights dimmed and just soft candlelight, will cause larger pupils making you more attractive to your date. In general, the bigger the pupils, the more favourable and excited the response. Your pupils dilate when you see something you like, as if you wish "to grasp" more of what you see. In courtship, for example, it can be a strong signal of affection – prolonged eye contact with dilated pupils is one of the first indicators of attraction.

Studies in the 1960’s and 1970’s used photographs with artificially manipulated pupil size to measure the effect of pupil size on feelings of attraction. The men shown the photographs didn’t notice that the subjects had different pupil sizes, yet it seemed to subconsciously influence how they rated the attractiveness of the women in the photographs – those with larger pupils were rated as softer, more feminine and prettier than those with smaller pupils. The same women with artificially smaller pupils were described as cold, hard and selfish! These experiments have been repeated over the years yielding similar results with men finding women with bigger pupils to be more romantically appealing.

Interestingly, it is not quite as simple when it comes to attraction to men. For women, larger pupils being more attractive seems to holds true if they are seeking a short term fling or are attracted to a roguish type of man. Experiments were done using high school photos of men and women with altered pupil sizes. The same person’s picture was photo-shopped into three different versions with the pupils being either, small, medium or large. As expected the experiment revealed male participants rated the pictures of the woman with large pupils to be most attractive, consistent with the earlier studies. However, surprising results were obtained from women – the theory had been that women would not pick men with large pupils as subconsciously these may be perceived to be more promiscuous and not as good a potential caregiver to any offspring. However the results were that some women were attracted to the medium sized pupil men but some to the larger pupils, and when these results were delved into further this was found to be related to what type of relationship and man the women were seeking.

Over 500 years ago, women in Italy used an extract from the Belladonna (Deadly Nightshade) plant to dilate their pupils because they believed it would increase their attractiveness. The word Belladonna literally means “beautiful lady.” They thought that bigger pupils would make their eyes seem more alluring and entice men into falling in love with them, and it seems they may have been right! However use of Belladonna carries a risk of death by poisoning so unsurprisingly it has not continued as a fashion choice, although contact lenses with artificially large pupils are available as a safer option!

Having candle light on the table with dim light around also focusses attention on your dining partner, as you will be less distracted by surrounding influences and ensures that they will be the centre of attention. Prolonged eye contact also signals attraction which will enhance the mood of a romantic evening!

So get the candles out and enjoy a Happy Valentine’s Day…

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