SNAPSHOT: Mona Lisa Isn’t Staring At You, Scientists Say

By Alison Mackey | January 14, 2019 6:33 pm
mona lisa's eye watching

(Credit: Cluster of Excellence Cognitive Interaction Technology/Bielefeld University)

Ever feel like the eyes in a painting are following you? That creepy feeling of being watched by a picture is known as the “Mona Lisa effect” — but it might need a new moniker. Two researchers recently put Leonardo da Vinci’s famous portrait to the test and claim the lady’s gaze might not be so magical after all.

For the study, Gernot Horstmann and Sebastian Loth of Bielefeld University had 24 volunteers sit in front of a monitor showing an image of the Mona Lisa. A folding ruler was placed at various angles from different sections of the portrait, and the volunteer’s job was to indicate where her gaze met the ruler. The researchers gathered nearly 2,000 measurements this way, and almost all of them said she is looking not straight on, but to the right of the viewer — a 15.4 degree average gaze angle, to be exact, as opposed to the zero degrees of a person looking straight at you.

“Thus, it is clear that the term “Mona Lisa Effect” is nothing but a misnomer,” Horstmann notes in a press release. “It illustrates the strong desire to be looked at and to be someone else’s centre of attention — to be relevant to someone, even if you don’t know the person at all.”

The study was published in January in the journal i-Perception.


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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Mind & Brain, top posts
MORE ABOUT: psychology
  • Enrique Roberto Badaracco Nava

    En la Imágen exhibida, el Rostro aparece pintado acompañando al Giro de la Cabeza hacia un Lateral. Considerando que el Angulo de Vision Promedio aproximado, de un Humano mirándo fijamente (a un plano Perpendicular) hacia el frente, cubre unos 60°( unos 30° a cada lado sin mover los ojos), y que en esta Imágen, las Pupilas estan posicionadas en el extremo lateral del Ojo, hacia el mismo lado que la Cabeza, el Centro Óptico de Visión estaría Desplazado unos 15°, pero el Punto de Enfoque está desplazado Mínimo otros 30° más, hacia el mísmo lado.

  • TLongmire

    The “Mona Lisa Effect” does exist and it underscores the nature of the reality we find ourselves in. Da Vinci was expressing his cleverness in a very measured and nonchalant way. Pareidolia and effects such as this is a conscious interface to a much larger “state”. The mind is in a sphere naturally recursive but when focused can grasp anything because it is interfacing to the surface where everything is known. Some very smart people believe the universe so large it is flat, I say it is larger and everything is on that edge of a sphere, known.


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