Thursday, September 22, 2005

The eyes have it

Play it: Big Eyed Baby

According The Human Face: A Natural History (by Daniel McNeill,) the size of eyes are an evolutionary trait that is key for survival. Babies have eyes that are bigger relative to their face in order to avoid neglect from their parents. This often called the baby-face. Austrian zoologist Konrad Lorenz, regarded as one of the founders of modern ethology, was the first to measure the disarming allure of big eyes, and proved that the baby-face theory works with all mammals. A mother chimp will take better care of her baby with bigger eyes. It works the other way as well as a baby's eyes are also evolutionary conditioned to be focused the exact distance to the mothers eyes while breast-feeding.

Some babies are born with larger eyes then normal, Eli for instance ([pictured above] who's eyes sometimes look like their out of a Margaret Keane painting [pictured right.]) What, if anything, does science have to say about this? Is it perhaps compensation for parents who aren't prone to cute things? I'd hate to think that compensation would be needed, but I know there's something to it, as at 3AM, when lil' one won't go back to sleep, I'm thankful that I can look at Eli's face and laugh (that's really why you need night lights.)

The large eyes are found everywhere in commercial art, like in the art of the aforementioned Margaret Keane. Disney has made a fortune on the perfection of this, and it's really everywhere you look, especially in how companies market to kids and women, who are proven susceptible to the baby-face. Most recent example would be the Puss N' Boots (left) character from DreamWorks Pictures’ Shrek 2... the eyes really had to be made big to make up for the voice of Antonio "I know no shame" Banderas.

360/NPR discuss the evolution of cute (listen to the broadcast)

tags: , , , , ,


drake leLane said...

Big Eyed Baby

* "Big Eyes" - Cheap Trick
* "Baby Face" - Little Richard
* "Wide Eyes" - Hayden
* "Baby Blue Eyes" - The Stray Cats
* "Infant Eyes" - Wayne Shorter

AntToeKnee said...

There must be more to it than big eyes. Otherwise I wouldn't have the urge to batter Gail Porter with an iron bar.

drake leLane said...

well... big eyes can only compensate so much. There's not enough real estate on the face to compensate for some folks.

that and it's really only proven to work on women (ie, mothers.) most of us males have a big-eye resistor chip built-in, apparently. mine is put to the test daily.