It seems like the old saying ‘your eyes are the window to your soul’ might amazingly have some scientific backing, a study at Orebro University in Sweden suggests.
Researchers at the university claim to have identified patterns in the eye which indicate whether the person is trustworthy and warm-hearted or impulsive and neurotic. To do this, they’ve been looking at two features visible in the eye; the contraction furrows – lines curving around the outer edge of the iris – and the crypts – thin threads radiating outward from the pupil. Both features are present when the pupils dilate.
Because everyone has an eye structure determined by genes which also play a role in the development of the frontal lobe of the brain – an area which shapes personality – it seems logical that there would be some connection between iris structure and the way we behave. To test the theory, the Swedish team looked into the eyes of 428 subjects and compared what they saw with what had been identified through regular personality tests.
The results of the test showed that those with a higher number of crypts had identified as warm-hearted and kind, whereas those with more contraction furrows seemed to be more neurotic and easily swayed by desires.
These findings are thought to have something to do with the neurodevelopmental PAX6 gene – which is responsible for development of the iris as well as impulsiveness.
What does this mean?
The ability to determine – to an extent – the personality traits of individuals through something as difficult to fake as eye structure could have a number of uses.
The team suggested that the knowledge could be used for psychoanalysis as well as a screening procedure for employers. Because of the speed and accuracy of screening irises the security uses are endless.
That said, academics in the field have been quick to advise a note of caution. Iris scanning to identify people is a legitimate use of technology, but once you go into analysing abstract things such as personality you step into a grey area. Arresting someone on the basis of their iris could prove dangerous and would no doubt spark quite an amount of controversy, as would take medical action against someone because ‘their iris says they might be dangerous’.
Certainly it’s an interesting discovery and could have some excellent uses in the right hands, so long as we don’t go too far with it. Either way though, next time someone calls you cliché for using the ‘window to the soul’ line, you can tell them it’s all fact.
This is a guest contribution by Rob Wood.