What Your Eyes Have To Say

“[I] found a stuffed animal, a fluffy wolf with bright blue eyes, and was immediately drawn to it. ‘I want to get this for [him]. It is telling me it needs to go home with [him].'”

― Christine Feehan

I’ve altered the above quote to apply to my oldest son’s first child. He had blue eyes (now gray). And his middle name is Connor, of Irish, meaning, “Wolf Lover”. And wolves play an important role in Viking lore. Since we are of Gael (Irish) and Norse (Dane and Norwegian) lineage, when I saw the blue-eyed, stuffed wolf in the hospital gift shop shortly after holding him in my arms just after his birth, I knew I had to buy it for him, my first gift to him, a token of his name, his heritage. He still has it and has two more, besides. He cannot go to bed at night without them, even now, six years later.

People’s eyes have always fascinated me. Not so much the shape or distance between them, but their color. And I think that’s probably true of everyone. It is probably the first thing we notice when first looking at someone (maybe just after noting the color of their hair and skin) and is a deciding factor in our first impression and decision about what we think of them (absent any other information.)

And scientists have proven this to be universally true, world-wide.

I decided to do a little research on eye color the other day after watching a couple of cooking shows on TV (I’m crap at cooking, but I love a well-prepared meal with interesting ingredients) and am fascinated with the talents the 8 to 12 year-old children on shows such as Master Chef Junior, Chopped Junior (among others) exhibit – their knowlege and skills rivals and often surpasses those on the adult versions. As I’ve watched, I’ve begun to notice that almost all the children were blue-eyed.

Curious. Are blue-eyed people more creative? Not necessarily, but scientists at Orebro University in Sweden have found that our eye color is affected by the same genes that form our frontal lobes, where critical thinking and social skills takes place, and there are distinctly shared behaviors in people with similar irises. Multiple studies have shown that blue-eyed people are more successful when it comes to thinking strategically compared to people who have brown or hazel eyes, are more successful at planning and structuring their time (which is a key component in a timed cook-off challenge!) and perform better in exams than those with brown eyes (that doesn’t mean they’re more intelligent, just better test-takers – a result of inherent time management, perhaps?)

[A few facts: Every human throughout history had brown eyes until about 6,000 years ago when one person born had a genetic mutation and research shows that this person was located somewhere around the Black Sea. As a result, every blue-eyed person has that one common ancestor and is why it is a very common European trait. In 1900, more than 1/2 of non-Hispanic Whites in the U.S. were blue-eyed. By the mid-1900’s it fell to 1 in 3. A study by Loyola University now estimates that fewer than 1 in 6 Americans have blue eyes. Brown is a dominate gene; blue recessive. That means, as more blue-eyed people mate with brown-eyed, the dominate brown will cause fewer blue-eyed in the general population. But genes never really disappear from the genetic pool. It just means that, in the far future, those with blue eyes will be a rarity (same with red-heads. Contrary to popular myth, neither are slated for total extinction.)]

Which led me to look at what those other “distinctly shared behaviors in people with similar irises” might be. You can do your own research (I found near universal agreement among those scientists who have studied it), but one’s personality characteristics are closely related to the color of one’s eyes:

•  Those with brown (light, medium or the darker shade, black) eyes are outgoing and social, loyal, trustworthy, respectful, and gentle (but not necessarily submissive.)

•  Those with blue eyes tended to be introverted and shy, wary of new things and are considerably less open with others. (Unfortunately, others may erroneously see them as untrustworthy, or competitive and even egotistical, aloof to others.)

• Those with grey eyes (a shade of blue) are well-balanced but defensive. 

• Those with hazel eyes are balanced and not likely to go to extremes. (Hazel’s change color back and forth from green to brown, or as an iris with the two different colors, and no one really knows what makes hazel eyes – researchers “guess” that hazel is simply a combination of brown and green eyes.)

• Those with green eyes (another blue shade and the rarest of all colors) are self-sufficienct, unpredictable, original, creative and perform well under great pressure. (“Sexy” seems to be the unanimous first choice description by others and surveys have found, when asked what eye color they’d like to have, given the choice, a majority of non-greens would choose green.)

Eye color is also associated with some health conditions and behaviors (for example: blue-eyed are more prone to skin cancer. They also have a higher tolerance for alcohol, that allows them to drink more than the brown-eyed and may account for the fact that the majority of alcoholics are blue-eyed.) And how genetics determine eye color is also interesting (my parents were both brown-eyed, as are my sisters. I have hazel [brown surrounded with green]. My wife, green, one son blue and one brown, all the grandchildren, blue.) Hummm, maybe grist for another post, another day?

Of course, the personality traits by eye color are group characteristics and an individual is not always reflective of their eye color (or vice versa); who a person is, how they think and how they behave and respond to others is also a matter of their upbringing and life experiences (which probably carries more weight.) But the basic personality tendency is always there.

Dr. Anthony Fallone of Edinburgh University (who has studied the links between eyes and personality) has said, “The eye is so closely linked neurologically to the brain that you might call it the only part of our brain you can see from the outside. It seems to hold vital clues to our brain function.”

Interesting, that. Don’t you think?

– Bill

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