Science

Why Do Men Find Women With Larger Eyes Attractive?

Why Do Men Find Women With Larger Eyes Attractive?

According to several university studies, research has shown that men generally find larger eyes on women more attractive.

The perceived attractiveness of larger eyes has led to a growing trend (especially in Asia) of women using cosmetics and contact lenses with larger limbal rings in an attempt to create the illusion of larger eyes. Many have even done this permanently through cosmetic surgery.

Why do men find larger eyes attractive?

There seems to be two separate reasons which attempt to address the question. The first is that larger eyes (along with fuller lips, bigger breasts and smaller chins) are a sign of higher levels of estrogen. Women that have higher levels of estrogen will be more successful and have an easier time conceiving than women with lower levels. This means that women with larger eyes will be seen as a better ‘mate’.

The second reason is that large eyes are a neotenous feature.

Neotenous Protection

A neotenous feature is a characteristic of youth shared by babies and children that humans evolved to retain so they could attract quality mates with “protective and nurturing impulses”. A mate with protective and nurturing impulses would be more likely to help raise their offspring and raise reproductive success.

Since human eyes do not grow in size during its development relative to the rest of the body, the size of the eye relative to the face decreases as we grow. This means that babies have larger eyes compared to older children and adults. As a consequence, people who have large eyes are often perceived to be younger than they really are. Since perceived youth of a mate is also a sign of fertility, men tend to prefer women with neotenous features, like large eyes.

However, this isn’t saying that men want to mate with babies and small children – that would be incredibly maladaptive because they are not fecund (fertile). So, then, why do males usually prefer women who, in essence, look like babies?

Sexual Selection

Large Asian eyes

It’s thanks to something that happens in evolution called Fisherian runaway selection. Fisherian selection suggests that, when one sex prefers mates with certain genetic traits, then, through the process of sexual selection, the other sex will come to possess the trait in increasingly exaggerated forms.

The process is called “runaway” because over time, it would cause the development of greater preference and more pronounced traits, until the costs of producing the trait balance the reproductive benefit of possessing it. The peacock’s tail is a perfect example of this. Its tail requires a great deal of energy to grow and maintain, it reduces the bird’s agility, and increases the animal’s visibility to predators. Yet, it has evolved which indicates that peacocks with longer tails have some advantage.

This same process occurs with men’s preference for women with neotenous features.

Bonus Facts:

  • By the age of 7 years old our eyes are fully developed and are physiologically the same as adult’s eyes.
  • You blink 15,000 times each day (and by reading this, you were very likely made aware of your own blinking)
  • Type 2 diabetes is commonly discovered during an eye test as it can be seen as tiny hemorrhages from leaking blood vessels at the back of your eye.


View Comments (43)

43 Comments

  1. Pouch Edwards

    February 11, 2012 at 7:10 pm

    I am a guy and I disagree. I like my women to look like grown women – not girls. i don’t need a female to look like a baby, isn’t this, um…pedaphilia? what’s wrong with an interesting sexy attractive women, with cheekbones and a formed face instead of a puffy round baby face? I am stictly hetero, here,I just am not attracted to women with little girl features. I don’t find them sexual, instead my instints say “stay away.” Be nurtering, perhaps, but not sexual. Please, lets’ do away with all the baby faced girlson movies and commercials posing as “women” because you think it’s what us men want.

    • Julia

      October 10, 2012 at 7:08 pm

      The point is that a lot of characteristics of babies overlap with characteristics of femininity. Soft hairless skin, big eyes, rounded facial features. If someone who is without a doubt a grown woman has cute features, it means praise God she doesn’t have old matronly features! A couple I find repulsive are Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker, because she has this long UN-cute therefore UN-feminine face, and he has a little-boy face. Now reverse the scenario, and give the man a rough aged appearance and the woman a little-girl face and the situation rocks!

    • kelly jug

      January 3, 2013 at 7:20 am

      You may say “stop” because it’s not what YOU want, but some people can’t help it. I was born with naturally big brown eyes, a round face and full lips and have had men after me. I cant do anything about it even though I hate how I look.

      • crimson

        December 8, 2013 at 5:20 pm

        I don’t have big lips, eyes, or breasts but still haven’t had any problem turning heads, or getting guys, and I even had men tell me that I had nice lips. But I do have emerald green eyes, which is the “cream of the crop of eye colors”, and a curvy body which they like.

        P.S. There’s a difference between guys actually being interested in you and just wanting to have sex with you, not saying that was the case with you but from what you posted that sounds like its all they wanted you for.

    • Erza

      April 28, 2013 at 5:43 am

      You’re right. There are very beautiful women who does not have big eyes. Big eyes can be attractive but small eyes can be attractive with the right facial features which applies to big eyes as well. We’ll say ‘Her eyes are pretty.’ Why do Asian women have to do that when it suits them and they look completely fine? They look classic with their slanting eyes which is also natural. The large eyes and full lips do look good which is probably why it attracts. These features can beautify a face in a sweet way but small eyes and small lips can also look very beautiful in a beautiful face. Maybe the mating thing works as well. I don’t think people are only attracted to one type of beauty. Some females with small eyes, lips which I’ve seen where one of the most beautiful. They also look sweet and innocent like the pretty Chinese. Sometimes I think it’s because the average woman with big eyes may look better than the ones with small eyes. Or because they are not noticed even when the person is pretty. However both big and small eyes can be very pretty.

      • D.

        June 13, 2014 at 5:13 am

        I agree. This idea that there is ONE standard of beauty (being set by the west) is not accurate or fair. I have big eyes but don’t think that men only like large eyes on a woman, a lot of models and actresses have smaller eyes and are considered pretty. I hope we can all pull away from this notion of a standard of beauty that is driving women to change their bodies to suit it. It’s so sad and hard on women.

    • Ricky Mc L

      March 9, 2014 at 11:34 pm

      Ahhh how cute. And those women who look like women like boy toys who look like boys. Now grow a pair of sugardaddy balls and stop pretending everything is perverted. It is NOT unusual to be attracted to someone over 18 no matter how old they look. I have always preferred baby faces on women. Not just because its beautiful and exotic but because baby faced women age the best. Its those 25 year olds who look 17 that look 30 when they are 40. As for “eyes”… I have always preferred cat eyes on females. Big or small. I also like eyes that have more than one color in them. Rings of colors like rainbows.

    • D.

      June 13, 2014 at 5:10 am

      Rock on Edward! I agree too even though I’m a woman. I’d think any healthy man would be turned off by someone that looks like a child. But then again, there are a lot of pervs out there and the current hypersexualization of girls is not helping that problem, but instead feeding it sadly with a lot of hype and media like you said… in movies and such.
      I just wish more people could see through that kind of propaganda. And gosh, what would motivate those making it to gear it that way, bleehh!

    • Steven

      October 27, 2014 at 2:02 pm

      Good for you but the studies suggest you are not typical. Some individuals will always deviate from average. One individuals untypical preferences isn’t a basis to disagree with the claim that this is generally true.

      Also, it doesn’t mean men are actually attracted to babies- obviously they are not, at all. They are attracted to youthful looking women, perhaps because they wish to be dominant and perhaps because youthfulness is associated with fertility. There is also the fact its a signal of high estrogen levels and thus fertility.

    • Steven

      October 27, 2014 at 2:12 pm

      When you think about it, this is the opposite of a masculine look. Small, narrow eyes is a masculine trait, a sign of high testosterone and a typical alpha male trait, a trait of somebody who is dominant. Hetero men are not attracted to men. Big round eyes is as opposite to an alpha male as you can get and is therefore feminine. It looks more submissive like a child. This is probably at the root of it. That’s our evolved psychology. There was no feminism in the stone age, or before.

      Equality of opportunity and legal equality is a good thing – don’t get me wrong – but who we are attracted to works on a more primal level. We didn’t evolve to this post-60s.

      • Nadia

        March 4, 2015 at 3:30 pm

        You know, it is rather ironic that around the time that you wrote this, a new article came out with research on populations that resembled the ones humans evolved in to a far greater degree than the one you live in now. And the paper found that participants in those societies show weaker preferences for feminine features that are the opposite of a dominant alpha male.

        http://www.pnas.org/content/111/40/14388.full.pdf+html?with-ds=yes

        The researchers surmise that you have to be exposed to a lot of faces to be able to make judgments about feminity, and human beings have not been throughout history. Such preferences may be novel.

        Also, the strength of these preference varies across cultures.

        http://rsbl.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/roybiolett/10/4/20130850.full.pdf

        There is also evidence that these preferences weaken in certain contexts, as playboy models have smaller irises in years of recession.

        Human beings did not evolve with fixed preferences.

    • Steven

      October 27, 2014 at 2:14 pm

      Also, there are direct hormonal reasons why men have narrower and women have rounder eyes. We probably just subconsciously associate round eyes with femininity and when that trait is enhanced, the femininity of it is most obvious.

  2. Noel Brown

    March 29, 2012 at 1:24 am

    I disagree with the above comment. Why does everything come down “must be a pervert” attitude? First time I even realized I was attracted to large eyes was watching The new Startrek movie. The Alien humanoid attending to James Kirk’s mother in the beginning had huge eyes and they blew me away lol. I just watched “In Time” and they way Amanda Seyfried was made up accentuated her beautiful large eyes.

    • D.

      June 13, 2014 at 5:14 am

      Noel, I think he and others are referring to the comment about baby looks and mating etc… that’s all. Nothing wrong with our natural preference so long as no one gets hurt! ;)

  3. Jacob

    June 4, 2012 at 9:33 am

    Girls with big eyes can’t hide what they are feeling, haha I think that makes things interesting, I don’t have a preference though, but I do tend to notice girls with bigger eyes more.

  4. Alex

    August 21, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    I agree with this article to some extent. I notice chicks with larger eyes because they stand out more; if they are attractive that is a plus. However, i do also notice women with small eyes as well due to the whole “seductive” look. I guess subconsciously though, i am more drawn to women with larger eyes because you can see everything in their eyes and it does tend to look more feminine and soft. The only problem Ive experienced when dating a women with larger eyes is the fact that they seem to be good at lying. They have that innocent look to them so when they lie its hard to tell. So they may look all cute and innocent “wife material” but at the same time you have to watch your back because they’re good liars.

  5. shirley

    November 8, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    I am in a relationship, a successful one at this time and he always talks about my eyes. He says they are big but in a pretty way. I thought he was saying I looked like a freak under the table. As it turns out, modeling agencies prefer larger eyes also, because even to those men and women it is a “turn on” too. No instead of thinking I looked like an alien I feel pretty!!!

  6. Renee

    November 13, 2012 at 1:55 am

    I have always been ashamed of my eyes in grade school boys teased me all the time about them and as I got older, people always told me how pretty my eyes were. I didn’t believe it for a long time. I have a male friend who always talks about my eyes and tonight he said something about them. So, I decided to Google people with large eyes and found this web page. I am glad I did and people are always shocked about my age and now I know why! I am very very happy!!

  7. Arrowsend

    February 8, 2013 at 8:11 am

    Wow, Pouch Edwards, you clearly suffer to understand the defining characteristics of neurology and how human instincts work and function. Declaring pedophilia on being attracted to such features is calling to attention something that is so utterly slight and insurmountable it deserves no mention or carries any weight in a conversation or argument. It bears nothing.

  8. Fruit Fly Eyes

    February 11, 2013 at 1:17 am

    Funny how I ran into this. Big eyes are a gift! For the longest growing up, I thought my eyes were froggy, but my eyes are my biggest compliment now as an adult. My mate teases me, but it’s what keeps him staring at me. I love my big almond eyes!

    • Stacy

      April 11, 2013 at 10:25 pm

      Froggy? That’s funny. My eyes are so big that I’m often called a raccoon. It’s 100 times worse when my mascara runs.

      • bugsy

        April 13, 2013 at 7:08 pm

        Froggy isn’t even close. I’ve been called Bugsy because supposedly my eyes are as big as the guinea pig eyes from the movie ‘bedtime stories’.

  9. carly

    March 18, 2013 at 12:26 am

    Geeze… Thanks to my dad for his large eyes. When I was in high school, the male classmates always called me an owl. But when I got to college, people said my large dark brown eyes were so expressive. :)

  10. Marya

    March 26, 2013 at 9:33 am

    Well, I’m an Asian girl who has huge eyes. I’m happy with the way I am and I think big eyes makes girls more attractive. The sexiest woman alive (Mila Kunis) has big eyes… Miss world (Aishwarya Rai) has big eyes too. So, I think we can safely say that having big eyes is really good!

    • Stacy

      April 11, 2013 at 10:26 pm

      Asian girls with big eyes are super cute! They’re kawaii!

  11. Pastori Balele

    May 20, 2013 at 12:46 am

    You may be right. Men love women with big eyes. They always ask one another – have you noticed her eyes? Interesting and true factor.

  12. TiagoTiago

    June 22, 2013 at 4:21 am

    What made Asians have eyes like that even though their males still prefer big eyes?

    • Hreetu

      May 16, 2014 at 6:19 am

      Not all Asians are slant-eyed FYI. South Asians (i.e. Indians, Nepalis, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis) have big eyes. Asians don’t only mean Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Thais, Cambodians, Mongolians, Indonesians, Malaysians etc. You are talking about the Mongol Asians, not the Aryan Asians.

  13. Dorkyexcel

    June 25, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    So its true? I have big eyes that makes me feel bad and people who I’ve never met before or even some friends say my eyes are sexy or cute so I feel worse – like am being insulted. But now I know and I’m feeling unique.

  14. PETER

    August 17, 2013 at 2:51 am

    I love women with small eyes!

  15. shanea

    September 29, 2013 at 8:35 pm

    Pretty big-eyed girls rock! I can honestly say that I have grown into loving them. Yeah, I have many insecurities within myself but my big beautiful eyes are magnificent.

  16. Dani

    October 28, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    I have normal shaped eyes but my irises are small and don’t fill up my eye like it seems that most do and it’s always been something I’m self conscious about. I don’t consider my eyes “ugly”, they’ve just always seemed like eyes that no one could ever fall in love with. They aren’t eyes that I can imagine a guy looking into lovingly. Is that just my extreme self consciousness speaking or does that seem kind of true?

  17. tessa

    November 6, 2013 at 9:27 am

    I’ve got massive green eyes. Every man I’ve ever dated has told me it was my eyes that pulled them in. I dated a guy taking a course called the human brain and the anatomy once and he explained essentially what was stated in this article. Men have wanted to take care of me, rather than use me. Not that I’m helpless, but they’ve always felt the need to nurture me while simultaneously being sexually attracted to me.

    Personally, I think that’s a great combination.

    • Tess

      March 11, 2014 at 7:48 pm

      I am exactly the same! I have big green eyes & I feel like men usually want to take care of me as well. My name is even Tess too (not that it has anything to do with it).

  18. Jackie

    March 21, 2014 at 11:33 am

    Angelina Jolie have beautiful big eyes, Elizabeth Taylor, and Suzanne Lucci have very beautiful big eyes. They are some of the most beautiful women in my opinion.

  19. Kate

    June 2, 2014 at 6:36 am

    I’m basically doomed on an evolutionary standpoint. I’m short, with small eyes, thin lips and a large nose. Thank you parents, thanks a bunch.

  20. Ella

    June 12, 2014 at 9:01 pm

    Haha, interesting post, glad to meet fellow big (bug) eyed people. I have eyes so huge, when my friends tell me about people, they’re like “No don’t look! Ella, you’re just eyes”.

  21. Tatiana

    June 23, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    I used to feel very insecure about my big brown eyes and even used to do eyeliner all around the eye to make them look small but not anymore! I feel more confident about my eyes and even the color since they match my brown hair and tanned skin.

  22. Kim

    July 2, 2014 at 9:46 am

    Complete opposite over here. I have super large eyes to the point where doctors always want to run tests on my thyroid even though I don’t have thyroid problems. I have received about half negative/positive comments about my eyes over the years. Strangely, when people would talk bad about me that’s ALL they say. My eyes don’t make me look youthful. They make me look really old. Dark circles to boot. I’m 31 and my husband is a youthful 33 with small eyes and people think he is my son. I cursed out the last person who thought that because she has seen me practically everyday since I was like 18 and NEVER saw me with a kid. But she had to nerve to suggest that I’m old enough to have a grown son. He doesn’t look that young, like 17-22 maybe, but for people to suggest that I look old enough to have a child even that age is sickening and it’s be cause of my big eyes. They just bring my whole face down.

  23. Osher

    July 18, 2014 at 11:11 pm

    There are some people with very big eyes that are beautiful and some not so. Big eyes can look like they’re popping out kinda not cute. My step-mom had very large eyes but they weren’t pretty at all. I also vividly remember dissecting a cows eye in class so now when I see really large eyes, it reminds me of that cow eye.

  24. sophie

    December 10, 2014 at 9:20 am

    What about men with large eyes? I find them so attractive.

  25. kimberlydawn

    January 11, 2015 at 3:27 pm

    Well it doesn’t really matter if you have a little girl face in your teens or early twenties because you will mature and your face will be less and less little girl like… That is a fact and it happens to everyone. Putting all the emphasis on “little girl” faces is a losing proposition to any women over the age of 28 and is sort of ridiculous! We should welcome, expect and appreciate all KINDS of female faces instead of just one standardized look as being attractive. I mean, how boring is that? Besides, no adult woman over the age of 30 can even maintain this look without lip injections, botox, fillers, etc…

  26. Lula

    April 8, 2015 at 3:27 am

    I was just looking this up out of curiosity. I have a sharp small chin, and large eyes, I always told I look “cute”, and have never had a boyfriend. No one shows interest in me. I always see the girls with smaller eyes getting more attention… Anyways, it doesn’t bother me but from my experience it’s not true. But it could also be that my face isn’t attractive to society’s standards, or it’s my personality.

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