Certain Genes Drive Our Ability to Read Others Emotions by Looking into Their Eyes


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According to psychologist Arthur Aaron, four minutes of eye contact between two people can create feelings of intimacy. In one famous experiment, over 20 years old now, Dr. Aaron had two strangers in his lab gaze into each other’s eyes and they fell in love. Writer Mandy Len Catron at the University of British Columbia, decided to try the technique on her own. But she added a twist, a list of 36 questions which get increasingly more intimate as the process rolls along.

The questions along with the four minute eye gazing session is supposed to make you fall in love. She and her male suitor, outlined in a popular piece for The New York Times, went through the questions, then practiced the eye contact technique. Catron insists by the end that she and her beau decided to fall in love. They weren’t merely pushed together by outside forces. But the process they went through may have served as a catalyst.

Ten years ago, researchers at Cambridge discovered that we can in fact, read the thoughts and emotions of others accurately by gazing into their eyes. From this, they developed what they called the “Reading the Mind in the Eyes” test, which can also accurately measure one’s cognitive empathy, or the ability to read the others emotions. Some people are naturally better at it than others. Researchers also found that women tend to be more attuned to other people’s emotional status than men.

The striatum.

The striatum is the area of the brain responsible for cognitive empathy. Wikipedia Commons.

Now, Cambridge researchers, Along with some international colleagues, just completed a follow-up project, where they discovered another piece of the puzzle. Besides Cambridge, colleagues from France, Australia, and the Netherlands, along with scientists at the firm 23andMe, contributed. The team has…

Sasha Harriet

Sasha Harriet

As content editor, I get to do what I love everyday. Tweet, share and promote the best content our tools find on a daily basis.

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Sasha Harriet

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