Sclera color enhances gaze perception in humans. Academic Article uri icon


  • Gaze perception is an essential behavior that allows individuals to determine where others are directing their attention but we know relatively little about the ways in which eye morphology influences it. We therefore tested whether eyes with conspicuous morphology have evolved to facilitate gaze perception. During a visual search task, we recorded the eye movements of human participants (Homo sapiens) as they searched for faces with directed gaze within arrays of faces with averted gaze or the reverse; the faces were large and upright, small and upright, or large and inverted. The faces had sclera that were conspicuous (white or colored lighter than the iris color) or inconspicuous (colored the same or darker than the iris color). We found that participants were fastest and most accurate in finding the faces with conspicuous sclera versus inconspicuous sclera. Our results demonstrate that eyes with conspicuous morphology facilitate gaze perception in humans.

published proceedings

  • PLoS One

altmetric score

  • 25.05

author list (cited authors)

  • Yorzinski, J. L., & Miller, J.

citation count

  • 12

complete list of authors

  • Yorzinski, Jessica L||Miller, Jacob

editor list (cited editors)

  • Senju, A.

publication date

  • January 2020