During close interactions, humans look into one another’s eyes, follow gaze, and quickly grasp emotion signals. The eye-catching morphology of human eyes, with unique eye whites, draws attention to the middle part, to the pupils, and their autonomic changes, which signal arousal, cognitive load, and social interest. Recently, an intriguing phenomenon has been discovered:
humans tend to synchronize their pupil-size with each other, which helps to build trust. Patients with different psychiatric disorders often tend to avoid eye-contact and are low on trust. In this project, partly funded by the European Association of Social Psychology and a KNAW van der Gaag beurs, I will closely collaborate with PD Dr. med. K. Koelkebeck from the Muenster University Hospital in Germany. Our key aim is to gain fundamental understanding of pupil-mimicry and possible implications for the establishment of trust in patient groups.
To read the grant report, click here.