Description: In my previous post I talked about functional prosopagnosia or the notion that we seem to become “face blind” when we try to recognize people we know when they are wearing masks. What if, however, this is a moment in evolving time where we have to take an automated process (the complex processes involved in scanning and recognizing whole human faces), make it a conscious process and change the process and/or the data we are using to recognize people when they wear masks and their “mouth data” is unavailable to us. Do you believe you can tell a LOT from other people’s eyes? Likely you think this is true BUT what Can you tell and how can you tell it? If we are going to be living in a masked world for a while yet these are things we need to know about. So what does Psychology research have to say about what the eyes can tell us? We might as well start with data rather than our intuitions, at least until we find out whether or not our intuitions are correct or, more importantly when and where they ARE correct and when and where they are not. What are your beliefs regarding your “eye-reading” skills? Once you have them in mind have a look through the linked article and see if your beliefs are supported by hard data.
Source: Face masks: Why your eyes might be saying more than you realize. Nigel Holt, The Conversation, Creative Commons.
Date: September 1, 2020
So, did it surprise you to see that we are good at some aspects of eye-reading and not any good at all at other aspects like lie detection? The ability to read emotions from eyes fts with Ekman and Friesen’s early work suggesting that there are a set of facial expressions of emotion that may be universally expressed and readable. Our current challenge is that we need to practice looking past what we lose with mask wearing and focus in on what we retain which is access to people’s eyes and to what their eyes might be putting out there for us to read. So, get focused and start practicing or, like many poker players, put on your dark glasses and relax.
Questions for Discussion:
- What can and can’t we read in other people’s eyes?
- What sorts of (social) things might be issues as we are “learning” how to pay closer attention to and read other people’s eyes?
- What sorts of things might manipulative people do to thwart our efforts to recalibrate our people reading skills?
References (Read Further):
Lee, D. H., & Anderson, A. K. (2017). Reading what the mind thinks from how the eye sees. Psychological science, 28(4), 494-503. Link
Kawashima, R., Sugiura, M., Kato, T., Nakamura, A., Hatano, K., Ito, K., … & Nakamura, K. (1999). The human amygdala plays an important role in gaze monitoring: A PET study. Brain, 122(4), 779-783. Link
Steimer, T. (2002). The biology of fear-and anxiety-related behaviors. Dialogues in clinical neuroscience, 4(3), 231. Link
Hooker, C. I., Paller, K. A., Gitelman, D. R., Parrish, T. B., Mesulam, M. M., & Reber, P. J. (2003). Brain networks for analyzing eye gaze. Cognitive Brain Research, 17(2), 406-418. Link
Guastella, A. J., Mitchell, P. B., & Dadds, M. R. (2008). Oxytocin increases gaze to the eye region of human faces. Biological psychiatry, 63(1), 3-5. Link
Kekecs, Z., Szollosi, A., Palfi, B., Szaszi, B., Kovacs, K. J., Dienes, Z., & Aczel, B. (2016). Commentary: Oxytocin-gaze positive loop and the coevolution of human–dog bonds. Frontiers in neuroscience, 10, 155. Link
Wiseman, R., Watt, C., ten Brinke, L., Porter, S., Couper, S. L., & Rankin, C. (2012). The eyes don’t have it: Lie detection and neuro-linguistic programming. PloS one, 7(7), e40259. Link
Vellante, M., Baron-Cohen, S., Melis, M., Marrone, M., Petretto, D. R., Masala, C., & Preti, A. (2013). The “Reading the Mind in the Eyes” test: systematic review of psychometric properties and a validation study in Italy. Cognitive neuropsychiatry, 18(4), 326-354. Link
Ekman, P. & Friesen, W. V. (1971). Constants Across Cultures in the Face and Emotion. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 17(2) , 124-129. Link