10 ways your pupils are conveying valuable information

Pupils though not easy to observe, can tell us a lot about the inner workings of the mind. Below are 10 ways variations in pupil size can be read.

1. Thinking

When ever the mind is presented with a difficult task, it results in the dilatation of the pupils. The harder you think, the more the pupils dilate. In the 60s, Hess and Polt gave their participants tasks of varying difficulty. The pupils got bigger and bigger in relation to the challenging nature of the questions.


2. Brain overload

Researchers in the 70s found out that when the brain was cognitively overloaded the pupils constricted.


3. My head hurts

There is a reason why doctors and paramedics flash a light in their patients’ eyes. It’s a simple test they do to see whether you’re okay or not. If something is broken inside, then your pupils won’t react to the light.


4. Now that is interesting!

This is something that the majority of the readers would already know. Dilated pupils usually signal the other person’s interest. White and Maltzman did an experiment in the 70s where they had participants listen to excerpts from three books. One book was erotic, another involved scenes of mutilation and a third acted as a control. The participant’s pupils widened on all three books. What was different was the duration of the dilation. For both the erotic and the violent scenes, the eyes took in as much as they could. New things will dilate the pupils, then whether they stay dilated or not depends on the content.



5. You’re turning me on

Perhaps the most popular and made more famous by a joke involving medical students and a female teacher is this fact. It has been shown that both men and women’s pupils dilate when they are sexually aroused.


6. Now that’s disgusting

Pupils will constrict if someone finds something disgusting. People were shown images of injured children which elicited the reaction of the pupils first dilating and then constricting. The shock caused the pupils to dilate while the graphic content shrunk them.


7. So you’re a mind reader?

When liberals were shown pictures of Lyndon Johnson, and Martin Luther King their pupils dilated. It was a very different story when pictures of George Wallace were shown to the same participants. Upon seeing Wallace the pupils of the liberals constricted. The reverse was true for the conservatives.


8. It hurts!

Hit someone and you’ll likely see their pupils dilate. Please don’t.



9. High

Chemicals will affect your pupils. Alcohol and opioids constrict the pupils. Amphetamines, cocaine, LSD and mescaline will dilate your pupils. Police officers know about this so don’t test them.



10. Pupils and personality

Researchers in 2007 found out that eye color can give you a clue about the person’s personality. How is that possible? Genes. This is one point on the list that isn’t about pupils.

Genes give eyes their color, and genes are responsible in part for our personalities. To learn more about the study read this article which appeared in the BBC.


Related: Find out what personality you have. Take the 2 minuite personality test




Well that was certainly eye opening. We covered a lot and found out that sometimes the same pupil response can mean a different thing. It’s a lot like deciphering body language; context is king. Generally speaking dilated pupils equals good, and constricted equals bad. Like I mentioned earlier, detecting these changes isn’t easy and you’re better off observing their bodies. But according to one study our brains do unconsciously pick up on these nuances. So the next time you get that all familiar gut feeling, don’t be so quick to dismiss it.





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *