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Eye color predicts alcohol use in two archival samples

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Abstract

The present study used data from two archival samples to test the hypothesis, derived from Worthy, M. (1999), Eye colour: a key to human and animal behaviour. Lincoln, Nebraska: to Exel (originally published 1974) that light-eyed individuals would be more likely than dark-eyed individuals to abuse alcohol. Sample 1 consisted of 10,860 Caucasian male prison inmates, and Sample 2 consisted of 1862 Caucasian women respondents in a national survey. In both samples, individuals with light eyes had consumed significantly more alcohol than individuals with dark eyes. These results are consistent with previous findings that dark-eyed people exhibit more physiological arousal and more sensitivity to some medications than light-eyed people. The results may indicate that greater sensitivity to alcohol in dark-eyed individuals prevents them from drinking the large quantities of alcohol needed for development of physical dependence. Alternatively, greater behavioral inhibition may motivate light-eyed individuals to engage in alcohol consumption to achieve harm avoidance.

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... The importance of eye as signals in vertebrates is well attested in the ethological literature. Indeed, it has been assumed that in most animals the perception of eye gaze (i.e., the establishment of eye contact) elicits arousal and reactions of flight and/or attack (Argyle & Cook, 1976; Goodenough et al., 1993). It has been hypothesized that this widespread behavior has been selected for and perpetuated in the evolutionary history of many species because of the high likelihood that if an animal is being looked at, it is potentially another animal's prey (Gomez, 1996) -the hypothesis gains support from studies on plovers (Ristau, 1991), iguanas (Burger et al., 1992), chickens (Suarez & Gallup, 1982), or snakes (Burghardt & Green, 1988), as all these species react defensively when being stared at. ...
... More specifically, previous research has categorized eyes exclusively, according to their hue as being either ―blue‖ or ―brown‖ (Rosenberg & Kagan, 1987; Kagan & Snidman, 1999; Herberner et al., 1989; Fallone & Baluch, 1993; Whisell & Whisell, 2011; Salter & Bloom, 2011; Arcus, 1994; Coplan et al., 1988; Kleisner et al., 2010 Kleisner et al., , 2013 Feinman & Gill, 1978; Gründl et al., 2012; West, 2011; Kocnar et al., 2013; Sulovari et al., 2015), or according to their luminance as being either ―light‖ or ―dark‖ (Beer & Fleming, 1987; Bassett & Dabbs, 2001; West, 2011). This presents us with two insurmountable problems -firstly, it is effectively impossible to compare results from studies using different categorization systems (i.e., hue, and luminance). ...
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