Body Language: Eyes

Eyes Gestures
When first meeting someone, we all make a series of judgments about that person based on what we see with our eyes, but what do our eyes tell that person about ourselves?
We all have an intuition that tells us that the eyes are the windows to the soul.  To us, people's eyes can appear to be warm, cold, beady, big, piercing, judgmental, or resentful, and so forth.  But what truly can we learn about someone from their eyes?


Cute Dilated Pupils KittyPupils are the only part of the body that are uncontrollable.  Unlike any other of the body language gestures that are unconscious but still controllable, pupils will act on their own by contracting and dilating based on the light conditions.  What many people don't know however is that pupils are also a reflection of our mood.  For instance, our Pupils Dilate when we are excited or aroused, dilated pupils are directly linked to romance - women's eyes will dilate when they find a male attractive, and what is known as "gazing deep into each others eyes" is an unconscious way of looking for pupil dilation in the other to become excited if we see it.  Haven't you ever wondered why clubs are so poorly lit, and why so many relationships come from those places?  Poor lighting will cause our pupils to dilate creating the illusion of arousal or excitement, and therefore, when the newly met person we're talking to at the club looks at our eye pupils, they unconsciously think they are dilated because of them.  Eye dilation is also used in marketing. Some of the models I worked with were instructed to put eye drops in their eyes before their photo shoot as dilated pupils in models who are used to sell products increase sales by up to 40%.  This is because the buyer will find a model (and therefore the product) more attractive (subconsciously thinking that the dilated pupil model is excited to see them in the photo).  Similarly, prostitutes in the 19th century would apply drops of Belladona containing atropine for pupil dilation.  Just look at the picture below and see which eye you find more appealing: the dilated pupil or the beady snake eyed pupil?  Contracted Pupils have the opposite meaning, as when we feel angry or negative towards something our pupils will contract.  Imagine playing Poker - you would have the upper hand by being able to observe the opponents pupils...

Dilated Vs Contracted Pupils


Eyebrows are also very expressive of a persons emotions and attitude.  Controlled by the frontal belly of the Occipitofrontalis muscles, eyebrows can tell you if someone is angry, concerned, submissive, surprised or confused.

  • Audrey Hepburn Raised EyebrowsRaised Eyebrows: When both eyebrows are raised for a few split seconds during a greeting, it's a sign of submissiveness, a way of saying "I come in friendliness".  Practice right now saying a very excited "Hey!" and odds are you'll notice how your eyebrows raise rapidly.  Raised eyebrows are also often used as a gesture of surprise.  If you've ever observed some women's faces and how they pluck their eyebrows, you'll see that they always pluck upwards, so the eyebrow appears as further away as possible from the eye.Hilary Clinton Raised Eyebrows This may be because of the instinct to look attractive to men, as women look more submissive with raised eyebrows, therefore increasing the levels of attraction men feel towards them, because men want to protect them.  The lovely Audrey Hepburn can be seen on the left doing facial gesture...although she's also using the "Vagina Mouth" flirting gesture :S.
  • Orland Bloom's Concerned EyebrowsLowered Eyebrows: Lowering our eyebrows is what we use to display aggressiveness, dominance or sadness.  Our eyebrows are also lowered to display concern or authority.  You can find this facial gesture with parents sometimes, who are punishing their kids and sending them to their rooms without supper or tv for a week.  They can also have their eyebrows lowered while using their index fingers in an authoritative manner as mentioned in the Palms and Thumbs article.


Marylin Monroe Seductive GeniusThe first time I read about the body language of eyes was a few years ago, and was in an article that mentioned Marilyn Monroe being a genius of sensual body language.  Perhaps that is where the rumors of her high IQ came from, a person that can fool the world by appearing dumb and ditsy, while at the same knowing instinctively just how to pull a man's arousal strings.  Monroe knew perfectly well that raising her eyebrows would be found attractive by men creating that idea of submission and need for protection, as well as lowering her eyelids, slightly opening her mouth using the "Vagina Mouth" and using the "Boob Shoulder" flirtation method.  She was also a pro at gently touching her body with her hands (as a way of inviting men to do the same) and exposingher vulnerable neck (another submissive gesture) creating a pre-orgasmic face.  Also notice that the distance between her eyebrows and her eyelids portrayed a mysterious secretive look that altogether drove men crazy, and still does to this day.

Amelie Poulain Big EyesI personally never found Marilyn Monroe very attractive, but I still wondered that if the eyes could be such a powerful instrument in the seduction, could my own personal physical attractions have some kind of logical explanation?  Many people that know me for some time know I had a slight infatuation for the character of Amelie.  After many years reading a bit about brain chemistry I discovered that women who have high levels of the hormone known as Estrogen, develop larger eyes and smaller chins along with fuller lips.  Additionally, women who have high levels of Estrogen are proven to have an easier time conceiving children, therefore women with big eyes are more fertile, which as men, we might be genetically predispositioned to detect unconsciously.  My second hypothesis works around the basis that our eyes never grow, that when we are young our eyes are pretty much the size they are going to be throughout our life, and therefore people who have larger eyes appear younger than they actually are.  By using Ronald A. Fisher's concept of evolutionary biology known as the runaway selection stating that people genetically pursue a specific sexually attractive feature, which our children may then inherit and will then also Princess Diana Childlike Facepursue (resulting in that quality becoming more predominant in newer generations), I believe men will usually prefer younger women or those who appear so by having juvenile facial features.  Reproduction with such childlike looking females will continue the runaway selection creating even more childlike looking women in each generation, hence why blondes are so popular amongst men, (also notice that many young girls are born with blonde hair and slowly, as they reach puberty, their hair will darken to brown).  In simpler words, men's hormone levels increase when faced with women who resemble pubescent females, as men are genetically Young Princess Dianapre-programmed to protect infants and young girls.  In the movie Amelie, the death of Princess Diana plays a huge role in Amelie's life - Diana is the perfect example of my theory, she popularized the "Shy Smile" and had a trademark head movement which involved lowering her head and keeping her chin downwards in submissiveness while she looked up.  Similarly, as children are considerably shorter than us, they always have to look upwards giving us the same impression Diana did, this is why Diana & Amelie endeared the hearts of men and women alike - while men wanted to protect them, women wanted to be like them.

  • Longer BlinksBlinking: On average we blink 10 times per minute and every blink won't last longer than 1/10 of a second.  As I mentioned in the Lying Gestures article our blinking rate increases when we feel under pressure, like for example when we lie (though now as more people are aware of this the opposite can also apply, and people can blink less than 5 times per minute trying to appear honest).  When blinks last longer than 1/10 of a second -  i.e. 2 or 3 seconds - this is a sign that the person feels uninterested, bored or superior to you in conversational or intellectual knowledge and is trying to block you out from their sight.
  • Scanner EyesScanner: Sometimes while talking to someone you'll notice the person's eyes scanning the environment as if they were checking out what is going on in the surroundings.  This behaviour can sometimes imply that the person is searching for an escape or exit because they feel uncertain of what is happening or bored (observe a sleazy guy trying to hit on a pretty girl and her reaction).  Another technique that occurs while scanning is that since the person knows that looking away for an exit is impolite, they will actually stare more than usual at your face with a fake smile like the "Tight Lipped" one.

Eye Direction

The following techniques known as Neurolinguistic Programming were developed by American psychologists Richard Bandler and John Grinder.  These chaps concluded that based on our eye movements we can reveal what our brains is focusing on by telling us whether we are imagining something or remembering something. The only problem with eye direction is that many times it may occur in a fraction of a second, so you must pay close attention.  It is also thought that the opposite directions apply for left handed people, so if for a right hand person remembering something means looking upwards and to the right, then for a left handed person, looking would be upwards and to the left.  Also keep in mind there are three memory channels in our brain: visual stored memories, auditory stored memories and emotional or feeling stored memories.  On average, 35% of people prefer to remember something through the visual information channel (with statements such as "I see what you mean"), 25% will rather use the auditory channel ("That sounds familiar") and the remaining 40% incline towards the feeling channel ("We reached an understanding").  The following eye directions are:

  • Eyes Directions (NLP)Top Right: When someone is looking to their top right, it is a sign they are remembering something using the visual channel in the brain.
  • Top Left: When someone is looking to their top left, it is a sign they are imagining something using the visual construction channel in the brain.  This is great for when asking a liar a question that requires memory (eg: Why didn't you bring your homework today?) and instead of looking up and to the right to remember why, they look up and to the left to imagine something and make up and excuse.
  • Center Right: When someone is looking to their center right, it is a sign they are remembering a sound using the auditory channel in the brain.
  • Center Left: When someone is looking to their center left, it is a sign they are imagining a sound using the auditory construction channel in the brain.
  • Bottom Right: When someone is looking to their bottom right, it is a sign they are remembering either a taste, a smell or a feeling using the kinesthetic channeling of memory.
  • Bottom Left: When someone is looking to their bottom left, it is a sign they are having an internal dialog with themselves either out loud or inside their heads (observe crazy people when they are blabbering to themselves and they'll usually be using this eye direction).

Biting Glasses Making a DecisionIf a person wears glasses, you might watch them sometimes start fiddling with their glasses and sticking one arm of the glasses frame into their mouth (this is also known as The Pacifier, as anything put in the mouth to fiddle with is a sign the person needs reassurance).  People who start sucking on their glasses arm frames are trying to buy themselves time from answering something, while making a decision or arranging their thoughts in the right way, as to what to say.
Glasses AdjustingIf however, they start adjusting their glasses on their nose, this sends the signal that the person likes what they are seeing or hearing.  By rearranging the glasses on their nose it's a subconscious way of symbolically "re-focusing" their attention to make sure what they see is true - this is also known as a positive evaluation gesture.  For people who don't have glasses, scratching or smoothly rubbing their eyebrow is a substitute to reveal the same internal positive attitude.

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This article is part of the Beginners Guide To Body Language series, please read the rest of the articles by clicking here.

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