QuickCheck: Is it true that dilated pupils are a sign of love?

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and apparently so is love. Is it true that you can tell if someone is attracted to you by how their pupils dilate?

TO QUOTE The Cult of Personality by 80s rock band Living Colour; Look in my eyes, what do you see?

Well, if you see a dilated pupil, it most probably means that the person looking back at you is in love with you... right?



Research suggests the uncontrollable change in our pupil size is an involuntary response to arousal or attraction.

A 2012 study by scholars at Cornell University in New York recruited 325 men and women with varying sexual orientations.

The researchers played erotic videos to the participants while monitoring their pupil size. The study found that erotic videos led to pupil dilation in the participants.

Another study in 2014 in the journal 'Evolution and Human Behavior' found that it was possible to determine sexual interest from the size and darkness of the pupils.

Why though?

Several research papers concluded that oxytocin and dopamine, otherwise known as the "love hormones", affect pupil size.

Your brain gets a boost of these chemicals when you’re sexually or romantically attracted to someone and this surge in hormones appears to make your pupils dilate.

But the thing is, it's not 100%.

Feelings like anger, fear and even anxiety would trigger a similar response to these emotions, as the pupil may dilate to better assess threats

Pupils also generally open up in low-light situations to let in more light.

Other factors that may result in dilated pupils include;

- Excessive drug or alcohol use

- Eye injuries that affect the iris muscle

- Neurological conditions, such as Adie’s pupil

- Brain damage - as in literal brain damage and not the insult thrown your way as you're being rejected by that girl who doesn't like you back.


1. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0040256

2. https://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/comm/kjohnson/Lab/Publications_files/Lick,%20Cortland,%20%26%20Johnson%20%282016%29.pdf

3. https://academic.oup.com/scan/article/8/7/741/1653225

4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1629580/

5. https://www.lenstore.co.uk/eyecare/the-look-of-love

6. https://www.jstor.org/stable/24949943?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

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