Eyes Reveal Sexual Orientation_Featured_, Nature Tuesday, August 7th, 2012
Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience Senior Writer
(Live Science) Whether you’re gay, straight or somewhere else on the spectrum, the truth of who attracts you could be in your eyes.
When people look at erotic images and become aroused, their pupils open up in an unconscious reaction that could be used to study orientation and arousal without invasive genital measurements.
The new study is first large-scale experiment to show that pupil dilation matches what people report feeling turned on by, said study researcher Ritch Savin-Williams, a developmental psychologist at Cornell University.
“So if a man says he’s straight, his eyes are dilating towards women,” Savin-Williams told LiveScience. “And the opposite with gay men, their eyes are dilating to men.”
The eyes have it
The link between pupil size and arousal goes way back. In 16th-century Italy, women would take eye drops made from the toxic herb Belladona, which kept their pupils from constricting and was thought to bestow a seductive look.
In fact, Savin-Williams said, the pupils dilate slightly in response to any exciting or interesting stimulus, including a loved one’s face or a beautiful piece of art. The dilation is a sign that the autonomic nervous system — the system that controls involuntary actions like pulse and breathing — is ramping up.