Looking into people's eyes

#1
In another thread, Frank Matera mentioned an informal experiment in which people examined images of the eyes of a number of people, and seemed to get useful information about the owners of these eyes!

I am interested whether people think static images of eyes do give information about the owners, and if they do, whether they think this can be explained in materialistic terms.

David
 
#2
In another thread, Frank Matera mentioned an informal experiment in which people examined images of the eyes of a number of people, and seemed to get useful information about the owners of these eyes!

I am interested whether people think static images of eyes do give information about the owners, and if they do, whether they think this can be explained in materialistic terms.
Sounds interesting! Could you link the information here?
 
#3
C

chuck.drake

#4
Is it just the eyes? How much of the area around the eye is included? Because there is a lot of information in the general eye area. It is one of the most expressive areas of the whole body. For instance, does it include the eye sockets and eye brows?
 
#5
Is it just the eyes? How much of the area around the eye is included? Because there is a lot of information in the general eye area. It is one of the most expressive areas of the whole body. For instance, does it include the eye sockets and eye brows?
Presumably, as a minimum it would have to include the eyelids and the skin surrounding the eye. If nothing else, this would probably indicate the age and sex of the individual. Typical facial expressions such as smiling or frowning would affect these areas, such that patterns of wrinkles or stretching would suggest some sort of habitual expression - except perhaps in those young enough to have no such features.
 
#11
I am sure the owner of the last pair of eyes is very sane and well balanced, but I don't know about the rest, we need people who are psychic to offer opinions!

David
 
#12
I am sure the owner of the last pair of eyes is very sane and well balanced, but I don't know about the rest, we need people who are psychic to offer opinions!

David
Hey David. I had some thoughts on this after one poster PMd me his feedback.

To make this easier for everyone who would like to get a read on the eyes, I would suggest that all feedback be sent to me in a PM. This will avoid any influences as well as protect anonymity if people are uncomfortable putting feedback publicly on the forum. After a certain amount of time I can reveal each eye-pair's identity along with an anonymous, bulleted description of each subject including all specific feedback. This will be interesting, because we will also see an average/median description emerge. Perhaps the group description will be stronger than the individual description?

Also, I don't think it prudent to limit or guide the type of information we want for feedback. Whatever anyone is comfortable with is fine.

And finally, David perhaps you could link to my eye post in the OP so it doesn't get buried if people are interested in trying it out?

-bishop
 
#13
Bishop,

I think a few of those images don't show much eye! Ideally I think they should show two eyes normally open and very little else.

David
 
#14
Bishop,

I think a few of those images don't show much eye! Ideally I think they should show two eyes normally open and very little else.

David
David

If you click on the images, it opens them up in your browser as full images with both eyes visible and very little else.
 
#15
David

If you click on the images, it opens them up in your browser as full images with both eyes visible and very little else.
Yes exactly. I did that partially because I wanted the user to be able to easily view each pair individually, as not to be influenced or overwhelmed by too many eyes. Mind you, I've never done anything like this so I'm totally open to adjustments in the presentation.
 
#16
Bishop, did you ever get any interesting results from your eye quiz?

I've been reading some studies recently that reminded me of this experiment. For example, this study indicates that faces are processed differently that objects or non-faces.

The present experiments add to a growing body of evidence in cognitive psychology suggesting that faces are represented holistically (i.e., with little or no part decomposition) relative to objects and patterns other than faces. Previous research has compared face representation with the representation of scram- bled faces, inverted faces, and houses and assessed the role of parts versus holistic representation in both long-term and short- term memory for faces. It has also tested the generality of holistic face representation across developmental stages and showed that an individual with a neurological impairment in terms of face recognition did not benefit from the opportunity to represent faces holistically.
This seems to be largely processed in the right brain hemisphere, as damage to the right temporal lobe often leads to prosopagnosia, which is an inability to recognize faces. This also ties into McGilchrist's characterization of the brain - where the right hemisphere processes information as a whole, and the left breaks it down into smaller pieces, then rebuilds the pieces into an abstraction. If the facial recognition can only be processed holistically, then we would expect the left hemisphere to lack the ability to correctly perform that function - which appears to be the case.

So then I was reading another study, (Does prosopagnosia take the eyes out of face representations?) about a subject with partial Prosopagnosia. The study found that the subject could be taught to recognize some faces (after a lot of training), but did not use information from the eyes/brow area, instead focusing on the area around the mouth and lower half of the face. On the other hand, the control subjects (no brain damage) all focused primarily on the eyes/brow area.

So this indicates that recognition around the eyes may require use of a specific brain function in the right temporal lobe, and perhaps a test of this sort may reveal strength/weakness in that area. This happens to be the same area of the brain related to episodic or 'emotionally charged' memory.

I am also curious to see if there is a link between empathy and ability to perform well on the eye recognition experiment. Obviously, a conclusion can't be drawn from an informal experiment on a web forum, but it might be a useful study for someone to perform in a more controlled, focused setting. If a link was found, then we could have a follow-up study where subjects took the eye-recognition test, then meditated regularly for a year, then took the test again to see if their recognition ability improved. (Studies have already been done that indicate that meditation can improve empathy, here is an example)
 
#17
Bishop, did you ever get any interesting results from your eye quiz?
Well, a total of three people participated. And while the results were definitely interesting, I'm not really qualified to make a judgement call either way on what any of it means. To be honest, I lost interest after the awkward reception the exercise received here on the forum.

I could still post the results if you're interested. Also, there was one forum member I won't mention (an anagram for his name is "Fool or Masterminding", if you really need to know :)) who promised to set up a similar test for me because I wanted to take part. Still waiting on that, guy!

I've been reading some studies recently that reminded me of this experiment. For example, this study indicates that faces are processed differently that objects or non-faces.
This study is really fascinating. I agree it's amazing that those who experience Prosopagnosia can re-learn to recognize faces, but only by focusing on independent features and excluding eyes. I'd like to dig a little deeper into it.

I am also curious to see if there is a link between empathy and ability to perform well on the eye recognition experiment. Obviously, a conclusion can't be drawn from an informal experiment on a web forum, but it might be a useful study for someone to perform in a more controlled, focused setting. If a link was found, then we could have a follow-up study where subjects took the eye-recognition test, then meditated regularly for a year, then took the test again to see if their recognition ability improved. (Studies have already been done that indicate that meditation can improve empathy, here is an example)
I'm sure empathy plays a bigtime role in the way people read facial features and eyes especially, but I think we'd need to first establish that someone is able to perform well on the test in the first place. Though I guess any result, good or bad, can be a gauge for later improvement. I agree that finding someone who was really good at it would be he best candidate for such an interesting experiment.
 
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