Huffington Post, Sun Nov 4 2012
By: Meredith Bennett-Smith
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There are two competing theories regarding why people look at others’ eyes. One is that humans are drawn to other humans’ eyes. The other is that people are looking at faces, and coincidentally, eyes are situated in the middle of faces. The problem with testing these theories is that human faces have eyes in their centers, making any comparison impossible.
Julian Levy, a 12-year-old whiz kid with a penchant for the role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons, came up with a breakthrough idea to help researchers answer this question, as his psychologist father and UBC professor, Alan Kingstone, hashed out the details of the experiment.
Julian suggested that his father use the monsters from Dungeons & Dragons (which features all sorts of creatures — some with two eyes, others with one or five). The resulting paper found there was a significant bias towards looking early and often at the eyes of humans and humanoids and also, critically, at the eyes of monsters. These findings demonstrate that the eyes, and not the middle of the head, are being targeted by the oculomotor system.