If you’ve ever wondered how skilled sales professionals seem to know exactly when to turn on the turbo boosters to get you to make the deal – take a good long look in the mirror. Those two orbs staring back at you show all of your cards. Thanks to a recent study in (wait for it) computational biology, we have a little better idea how that happens.
Your eyes, as it turns out, are a barometer of your arousal. Yes, this can also mean that sort of arousal, but in this case it means the activation of your “arousal system”—the combination of brain and nervous system components that regulate our reactions to stimuli in the environment. While there are other physiological “tells” that show the arousal system is activated, the eyes are the most vibrant.
That’s all well and good; nothing inherently off key about being aroused. Except for the fact that especially heightened arousal prior to making a decision tends to correlate with not-so-great decisions. When we are really aroused, our pupils enlarge, and what this study found is that the larger they get, the worse the decision.
Study participants were given a motion-discrimination task (following groups of dots across a computer monitor and making determinations about which direction the dots are moving/will move — more challenging than it sounds) while their pupil size was monitored. The results showed that people with consistently larger pupil dilations made the most erratic decisions. Quoting the study’s lead author, Dr. Peter Murphy from the Department of Psychology at Leiden University in the Netherlands:
“In this study, we show that how precise and reliable a person is in making a straightforward decision about motion can be predicted by simply measuring their pupil size. This finding suggests that the reliability with which an individual will make an upcoming decision is at least partly determined by pupil-linked ‘arousal’ or alertness, and furthermore, can potentially be deciphered on the fly.”
Source: MSN | Forbes | David DiSalvo