People look more attractive when gazing in this way.
Looking directly at someone makes you more attractive to them, research finds.
People were particularly attracted to opposite-sex faces that were looking at them and smiling.
Dr Claire Conway, the study’s first author, said:
“When asked to think of examples of attractive facial characteristics, most people think of physical traits such as healthy looking skin, symmetrical features or a strong jaw.
Here we show that gaze direction can also be important for attraction.”
People in the study looked at a series of pictures in which faces were sometimes looking at the viewer and sometimes away.
Different facial expressions were also tested.
Dr Conway explained the results:
“Faces that were looking directly at the viewer were judged more attractive than faces with averted gaze.
This effect was particularly pronounced if the face was smiling and the opposite sex to the viewer.
This shows that people prefer faces that appear to like’ them and that attraction is not simply about physical beauty.
It is possible that our brains are wired this way to allow us to invest our time in attracting members of the opposite sex who seem the most receptive to our interest in them.”
The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B (Conway et al., 2008).