As the eyes are the window to the soul, psychologists’ fascination with them is no surprise. In the first of two new studies, cognitive psychologists looked at whether there was a relationship between neuroticism and where people direct their visual attention.
The study found that those higher in neuroticism – essentially pessimists – tend to pay more attention to the lower part of the visual field. On the other hand those lower in neuroticism – optimists – paid more attention to the upper part. Now whether this has anything to do with how people behave in the real world is a hotly argued point in psychology – here’s a short description of ecological validity.
The final claim of the article that redirecting attention upwards might raise mood is highly speculative. Despite this, the BBC news story does the usual media job of generalising to the point of inanity.
On a more positive note for BBC News they do have a nice article about how parts of our brains ‘switch off’ when we blink. Researchers claim that this is why we don’t tend to experience a mini-blackout while blinking. This was investigated by lighting up the eye from the inside so researchers could differentiate between an eye blink and a dark scene (see photo above). Clever huh?
Does “feeling down” mean seeing down? Depressive symptoms and vertical selective attention [Article abstract]
Published: 26 July 2005