Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

Windows to the Soul

Swedish researchers claim that it may be possible to read a person’s personality by analyzing their irises. They studied 428 people and correlated iris patterns with warm-heartedness and trust or neuroticism and impulsiveness. The researchers looked at crypts (pits) and contraction furrows (lines curving around the outer edge of the iris), which are formed when pupils dilate.

It was found that those with more crypts were likely to be tender, warm and trusting, while those with more furrows were more likely to be neurotic, impulsive and give in to cravings.

The researchers suggest that a neurodevelopmental gene called PAX6 could also play a major role.

It is known to help control the development of the iris in an embryo.

Previous research has also shown that a mutation of PAX6 is linked to impulsiveness and poor social skills.

“These findings support the notion that people with different iris configurations tend to develop along different trajectories in regards to personality,” said Matt Larsson, a behavioral scientist who led the research team. “Differences in the iris can be used as a biomarker that reflects differences between people.”

Cited story.


  1. #1 mcewen
    February 19, 2007

    Anecdotal I know, but my two sons and two daughters – two brown pairs of eyes, two hazel/blue pairs – they’re matched pairs;
    Blue = eldest girl and youngest boy
    Brown = youngest girl and oldest boy
    BUT the boys are autistic, they could not be more different from their sisters.
    Maybe I just have bad eye-sight myself so I can’t see the differences!
    I love the theory in principal though.

  2. #2 Joseph j7uy5
    February 19, 2007

    At first glance, this seems far-fetched. But the eyes really are extensions of the brain, so it is at least somewhat plausible there could be a connection.

  3. #3 Joshua
    February 19, 2007

    Sounds uncomfortably like iridology to me. Only by studying “personality” instead, they avoid that whole pesky thing about making falsifiable predictions.

  4. #4 BWJones
    February 20, 2007

    OK, so they should make a tool to let us know what our irises tell us about ourselves.

  5. #5 Bob O'H
    February 20, 2007

    I hope this isn’t relevant in any way, but the literal translation of the town where the researchers are from is “Ear bridge”.

    Fortunately, there are other translations.


  6. #6 sciencesque
    February 20, 2007

    This paper is the biggest load of BS I’ve ever read. They go on and on about how they are testing the hypothesis that the iris-personality correlation is dependent on PAX6. But they never once sequenced the gene, nor did they consider any of the multitude of other factors that could explain their data (other genetic pathways, diet, environment). Instead of actually testing the real hypothesis, they came up with a model and crammed their weak data into that mould. I can’t believe the BBC is reporting this crap. I agree with Joshua – reeks of iridology and pseudoscience.

  7. #7 Scott
    February 21, 2007

    I thought it was funny but when I thought about it I began to worry! I had the feeling once before only that time it was about NLP and thier take on “eyes” – trend on the weirdness front!?

    If you are interested in Personality typing I’d recommend the Insights Learning Foundation and

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