August 23, 2011

Blue-eyed attractiveness: stereotype and reality

Aesthetic Plast Surg. 2011 Aug 20. [Epub ahead of print]

The Blue-Eyes Stereotype: Do Eye Color, Pupil Diameter, and Scleral Color Affect Attractiveness?

Blue eyes have been the embodiment of attractiveness not only for decades but even for centuries. The primary aim of this study was to determine whether iridal color, particularly color blue, can increase the attractiveness of a person's eye area. As a secondary aim, the study examined the impact of pupil diameter and scleral color on the attractiveness of the eye area.

The stimulus material comprised images of the eye areas of 60 women ages 15-65 years. A total of 80 participants rated the attractiveness of each eye area on a 7-point Likert scale and estimated the age of the person. The color values of the iris and sclera were measured. As an additional subsample, 50% of the participants were asked what features of each eye area they found particularly appealing.

Most surprisingly, no correlation was found between iridal color and rated attractiveness. However, the participants mentioned the color blue more often as a positive aspect than other iridal colors. A high inverse correlation was observed between attractiveness of the eye area and age. The larger the pupil diameter and the whiter the scleral color, the lower was the real and perceived age and the higher was the attractiveness.

The data showed that the "blue-eyes stereotype" does exist. People consider blue eyes attractive, but in reality, blue is rated as attractive as other iridal colors. Bright scleral color and large pupils positively affect attractiveness because both features are significantly correlated with youthfulness.



Andrés said...

I call wrong methodology, since anyone who's lived on planet earth for a week knows that men are more attracted by light eyes than women.

Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

Sample selection criteria swamp everything else about this study. The fact that 80 participants favor it tells you something only about what the 80 participants have in common.

But, there is every reason to suspect that there would be great ethnic diversity and social context at play. Blue eyes are a reliable proxy for WASP roots which are the highest SES ethnicity in the U.S. but has increasingly become less recognized as a distinct ethnicity. A "different strokes for different folks" hypothesis seems just as likely and would require a much larger and carefully selected set of samples.

Average Joe said...

Blue eyes are a reliable proxy for WASP roots

Not really. Blue eyes are common in most northern European populations, not just WASPs.