The blue-eyed bandits?

“Oh Grandmother, what big eyes you have!” squealed Little Red Riding Hood just seconds before she was gobbled up by the Big Bad Wolf. It’s such a shame The Brothers Grimm never thought to mention what colour they were, as a recent study by Karel Kleisner found that untrustworthy people might be given away…by the colour of their eyes.

The study, which sets to see a swarm of criminals, journalists and politicians desperately trying to get their hands on some contact lenses, shows that those with brown eyes are perceived as more trustworthy than those with blue eyes.  As bizarre as it sounds, eye colour does seem to correlate with the development of certain behaviours, so being perceived as less trustworthy could well be a knock-on effect of this. Seemingly, there’s more to the colour of our eyes than meets the…actually, no. I’ll spare myself the embarrassment…

Which behaviours are linked to the colour of our eyes that might make this so? This paper was built on many other studies which looked into how eye colour affects behaviour. Studies have found that infants with light eyes are more shy and timid than those with brown eyes. Interestingly enough, the impact of eye colour also seems to be far more influential in boys than girls: blue-eyed boys were shown to be socially warier than boys with darker eyes, but this trend was not noticed in girls.

So, this study wanted to test this hypothesis once and for all: are those with brown eyes deemed more trustworthy by their peers than those with blue eyes? The answer, oddly enough, is yes.

Who to trust? Courtesy of Kleisner et al., 2010

Who to trust? Courtesy of Kleisner et al., 2010

But for those of you with blue eyes, there’s no need to worry: the reason for this isn’t to do with eye colour per se; rather, it’s to do with the impact our eye colour has on the shape of our face. Well, the shape of men’s faces: the results for women didn’t prove to be sufficiently statistically significant to make this association (though they were still heading in this direction), probably because the shape of ladies’ faces tends to vary a lot less than the shape of men’s.

Eye colour, believe it or not, seems to play a role in the development of facial features, particularly around the mouth and chin. Brown eyes are also associated with happiness, so are perceived as more trust-worthy than their blue-eyed, angrier looking counterparts. This is because blue-eyed men tended to have a more angular and prominent lower face, a long chin and a narrower mouth with downward-pointing corners, relatively small eyes and quite distant eyebrows, which are traits which happen to coincide with that of an untrustworthy face.

It seems that those of us with brown-eyes have more of a baby face, and the pointed chin typically associated with light eyes is a definite departure from this. Those of us with baby-faces are shown to be more honest, so maybe this is good logic on our part. Another thing to consider is dominance: blue-eyed men typically have a small nose, mouth and chin: such small features are less masculine, so these individuals supposedly aren’t as reliant and trustworthy compared to brown-eyed men.

They do say that the eyes are the windows to the soul, but I don’t think anybody expected it to taken be quite so literally…


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