It's In His Eyes -- Is It Love or Lust?

Want to now if a person is interested in you romantically -- or sexually?

His eyes will first focus on your face if he thinks he might fall in love, but if he's more attracted than searching for a relationship, it will be your body.  Duh.

But think about it.  A new study has found that it all happens in the blink of an eye, when you first meet someone, according to newswise.com.

 The new study found that eye patterns concentrate on a stranger’s face if the viewer sees that person as a potential partner in romantic love, but the viewer gazes more at the other person’s body if he or she is feeling sexual desire. That automatic judgment can occur in as little as half a second, producing different gaze patterns.

 “Although little is currently known about the science of love at first sight or how people fall in love, these patterns of response provide the first clues regarding how automatic attentional processes, such as eye gaze, may differentiate feelings of love from feelings of desire toward strangers,” noted lead author Stephanie Cacioppo, director of the UChicago High-Performance Electrical NeuroImaging Laboratory. Cacioppo co-authored the report, now published online in the journal Psychological Science, with colleagues from UChicago’s Departments of Psychiatry and Psychology, and the University of Geneva.

I tried to think back to when I met my husband and I remember thinking at the time that he looked like that actor on "Mash" (the cute one, Hawkeye's friend), so I guess I was looking at his face.  I don't remember where he was looking at me!

Male and female students from the University of Geneva viewed a series of black-and-white photographs of persons they had never met. In part one of the study, participants viewed photos of young, adult heterosexual couples who were looking at or interacting with each other. In part two, participants viewed photographs of attractive individuals of the opposite sex who were looking directly at the camera/viewer.

In both experiments, participants were placed before a computer and asked to look at different blocks of photographs and decide as rapidly and precisely as possible whether they perceived each photograph or the persons in the photograph as eliciting feelings of sexual desire or romantic love.

The study found no significant difference in the time it took subjects to identify romantic love versus sexual desire, which shows how quickly the brain can process both emotions, the researchers believe, newswise notes.

But analysis of the eye-tracking data from the two studies revealed marked differences in eye movement patterns, depending on whether the subjects reported feeling sexual desire or romantic love. People tended to visually fixate on the face, especially when they said an image elicited a feeling of romantic love. However, with images that evoked sexual desire, the subjects’ eyes moved from the face to fixate on the rest of the body.  Both males and females did this.

By identifying eye patterns that are specific to love-related stimuli, the study may contribute to the development of a biomarker that differentiates feelings of romantic love versus sexual desire,” said co-author John Cacioppo, the Tiffany and Margaret Blake Distinguished Service Professor and director of the Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience. 





 


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