The Eye Language of Dilated Pupils

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File:Eye dilate.gif

What Do Dilated Pupils Mean?

It is said that the eyes are the windows to the soul, but is it true? Could the eyes really be a portal that reveals true feelings about another? When attracted to another, there are some things that can be controlled, but pupil dilation is not one of them.

clipped from en.wikipedia.org
Psychological effects

The pupil dilates in extreme psychical situations (e.g., fear) or contact of a sensory nerve, such as pain. The Task-evoked pupillary response is the tendency of pupils to dilate slightly in response to loads on working memory, increased attention, sensory discrimination, or other cognitive loads

Facial expressions of sadness with small pupils are judged significantly more intensely sad with decreasing pupil size though people are unaware of pupil size affecting their judgment. A person's own pupil size also mirrors this with them being smaller when viewing sad faces with small pupils. There is no parallel effect when people look at neutral, happy or angry expressions.

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World of Psychology
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Do Your Eyes Give You Away?

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Do Your Eyes Give You Away?
Can your eyes give away how much you’re thinking — even when you’re not consciously aware of your effort? According to new research, the answer is yes.

Dutch researcher Erik Bijleveld and colleagues recruited 15 participants to take part in an experiment measuring cognitive effort on a task for various amounts of money. They measured the brain effort required to complete the task through eye pupil dilation. Why would you care about pupil dilation, an automatic nervous system response? Well, it appears that you can tell a lot by the size of your pupils, because it expands with sympathetic activity, making it an unobtrusive measure of how much mental effort you’ve invested in a particular task.


The researchers summarized their findings succinctly: “More generally, whereas analyses of costs (required effort) and benefits (value of rewards) are usually thought to require consciousness, our findings suggest that such strategic processes can occur outside of awareness — and these processes show in the eyes.”


Bijleveld, E., Custers, R. & Aarts, H. (2009). The Unconscious Eye Opener: Pupil Dilation Reveals Strategic Recruitment of Resources Upon Presentation of Subliminal Reward Cues. Psychological Science. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2009.02443.x.

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  1. File:Eye dilate.gif - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  2. What Do Dilated Pupils Mean? - Body Language Expert (UK)
  3. Pupil - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  4. Do Your Eyes Give You Away? | World of Psychology
  1. Pupillary dilation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  2. Deric Bownds' MindBlog: Unconscious strategic recruitment of resources measured with pupil diameter.
  3. Pupil Dilation Eye | TutorVista.com | web search
  4. Human Amygdala Sensitivity to the Pupil Size of Others -- Demos et al. 18 (12): 2729 -- Cerebral Cortex
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