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Eye movements may offer clues about personality, study shows

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The way you move your eyes could reveal some secrets about your levels of patience and your personality, Time.com reported.

In a study from Johns Hopkins University, researchers analyzed the eye movements of 23 people,  focusing specifically on ‘saccades’ – quick eye movements that occur when people are forced to shift their focus to different objects in succession.

Each of the participants underwent a test in which they were told to focus on dots appearing on alternating sides of the screen, while researchers recorded their eye movements using a camera. Though some participants moved their eyes more quickly than others, patterns of movement within individuals remained consistent.

The researchers then asked people to participate in another experiment in which they were told to look left when they heard the command ‘O’ and right when they heard the command ‘X.’ Every time they executed the movement correctly, a buzzer sounded.  

Next, participants engaged in an activity in which the screen in front of them provided commands as to where to look. However, participants were warned that the commands could be incorrect 25 percent of the time. Though a second command would follow the incorrect directive, participants had to wait an undetermined amount of time for the new instructions.  This allowed researchers to assess the maximum – and minimum – amounts of time participants were willing to wait.

Overall, people who had displayed faster eye movements were less patient, while people who exhibited slower eye movements were more willing to wait for long periods of time.  

Researchers noted that physical outlets, like eye movements, may offer clues for how much people value time or rewards and insight into decision making. They also noted that people with brain injuries or mental illness may experience disruptions in this mental process, which could explain why they have trouble making decisions.

Click for more from Time.com.

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