People often call eyes the windows to the soul – and generally for good reason, it seems.
The majority of us already instinctively know how to read someone’s mood by their gaze. As Psychology Today has previously explained, when people are sad or worried, they furrow their brow, which makes the eyes look smaller. On the flipside, people raise their eyebrows when they’re happy, making the eyes look bigger and brighter (which is where the phrase “bright-eyed” comes from).
However it seems as if there’s even more we can learn from looking into someone’s eyes – and it has a lot to do with what colour their peepers are.
A study, published in Current Biology, saw researchers examine personality characteristics and eye colouration in people of North European ancestry.
And, their analysis says that people with lighter eyes are more likely to be “egocentric, competitive and sceptical” – while people with darker eyes are apparently more “agreeable”.
Scientists believe that this may have something to do with our evolutionary roots: thousands of years ago, our Northern European ancestors found light-coloured eyes more attractive. Thus, it's possible that blue-eyed people ended up having more of a competitive edge in this geographical area as blue eyes were rarer.
As they explain in the paper, “The rare-colour advantage of light-eyed females is likely to increase the chance of being noticed by a male.
“Moreover, competitive personality traits (such as wanting to beat others and being sceptical of others’ intentions) secure the long-term commitment necessary for self and offspring survival.”
Various other studies have researched what eye colour can tell us about ourselves.
In terms of physical differences, a pilot study reported by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine suggested that Caucasian women with lighter-coloured eyes appeared to tolerate pain better during childbirth than Caucasian women with darker eyes – though the sample size was extremely limited (58 women) and only included Caucasian women.
Read more: Where do you fall on the empathy scale?
Back in 2006, the Daily Mail reported that German psychologists conducted a study on blue-eyed children, detemrining that children with lighter-coloured eyes were more timid and inquisitive in nature. They also tended to be wary of new things, and were considerably less open around their peers than their darker-eyed friends.
Overall, then, it paints a perplexing picture: people with blue eyes are curious and cautious yet quietly determined to succeed – traits which, at a first glance, can be mistaken for aloofness and a big ego.
Then again, this writer is endowed with a pair of bright blue peepers herself, so maybe she’s just trying to see the bright side…