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Mulqueeny Eye Centers - Blog

Mulqueeny Eye Centers Friday Fun Fact

February 10, 2012 @ 10:02 AM -- by Sean Mulqueeny, O.D.

Apparently there are a lot of things we can control when we see something we admire, but pupil dilation is not one of them!  The term pupillometrics was coined back in the 70’s by E.H. Hess, a biopsychologist from the University of Chicago.

The story goes something like this.  One night, Dr. Hess was lying in bed looking through a book of “strikingly beautiful” animal photos when his wife remarked that his pupils were unusually large.  One could argue that the light was also probably low given the bedroom setting, but Dr. Hess didn’t feel that was the case. 

The next day, he and his assistant, J.M. Polt conducted an experiment using consistent lighting and several photos of landscapes and one of a pin-up girl.  Holding the photos above his head, Polt showed the photos to Dr. Hess, noting when he saw a change in pupil size.  Apparently, Hess’s pupils dilated when he saw the photo of the pin-up.  As a result, the two colleagues began research into pupil dilation and the science of pupillometrics was born!

Bottom line…there is a direct correlation between one’s interest in an image and pupillary response; the greater the dilation, the higher degree of interest!