This Is The Eye Color People Find Most Attractive

When it comes to what we find physically attractive in others, the answer will vary from person to person. Yet many of us could probably agree that there's something particularly enchanting about the eyes. For some people, locking eyes with another person across a crowded room may very well be the first thing that draws them in.

Why is this so? Science says there may be a number of different reasons. According to a 2011 study published in the scientific journal Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, pupil size, brightness, and, of course, eye color can all influence what a person finds attractive.

In an interview with Mind Body Green, Dr. Carla Marie Manly discusses how rarity is one of the main factors in eye-color preference for the very reason that it's basic human instinct to be drawn towards what stands out from the norm. She discusses how doing so is part of our primitive nature, and how throughout time, it's allowed us to determine whether the unfamiliar is deemed a threat to survival. Therefore, what's unique naturally captures our attention, whether it's a potential threat or something pleasing to the eye.

Green eyes are particularly rare

So if rarity is what draws us in, green eyes would be considered the winner when it comes to attractiveness. 2014 survey data from the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) reveals that just 9% of people in the U.S. have green eyes, or more specifically, a green iris. 

The iris itself is composed of two layers, one behind the other. No matter what eye color you have, the back layer contains brown pigment. It's the front layer of the iris that gives off your unique eye color. People with green eyes have light brown pigment either in one or both of their iris layers. Couple this with blue scattered light that the eye reflects back, and you wind up with green eyes.

Hazel turned out to be the second-most rare eye color in the U.S., making up an estimated 18% of the population. In third place, 27% of people across the country were reported to have blue eyes. One color in particular dominated the charts, however, with brown-eyed individuals making up nearly half (45%) of the U.S. population. In addition, a small portion of survey respondents reported having an eye color that was not included among the answer options.

Factors that may influence our attraction to lighter eyes

While green proved to be the least common of all the main eye colors, rarity may not be the only factor that boosts our interest in light-colored eyes. Lending further evidence to the notion that light eyes are perceived as particularly alluring, research shows how additional elements that influence eye attractiveness may be easier to see with lighter eye colors.

One of these contributing factors may be the prominence of a person's limbal ring. Researchers from a 2011 study published in Evolutionary Psychology explain that the limbal ring is the dark-colored halo that circles the outer edge of the iris right where it touches with the white portion of the eye. The study findings revealed that both men and women found a darker, more pronounced limbal ring to be more attractive compared to no limbal ring present. Commenting on the study, experts at Psychology Today note that limbal rings tend to blend in with dark-colored irises, but stand out more prominently in those with light-colored eyes.

The role of eye color, pupil size, and sclera brightness

The prominence of a person's limbal ring may not be the only factor that supports our attraction to light-colored eyes. In the 2011 study published in Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, researchers examined participants' attraction to various eye colors. The study team presented 80 individuals with pictures of 60 different women's eye areas. The women were between 15 and 65 years of age. Participants were asked to rank eye attractiveness using the numbers 1 through 7 and to guess each woman's age. Additionally, half of the participants were asked to identify what specific features of the eye area they were most attracted to.

Participants identified greater pupil diameter and brighter whites of the eyes as two features that boosted attractiveness, which tend to be linked with the perception of youth. Additionally, participants frequently brought up the color blue when discussing appealing eye features, thereby providing further evidence of our attraction towards lighter-colored eyes, such as blue and, of course, green. However, there is no hard and fast rule. There are many elements that play into what we deem physically attractive in others, and you never know who may catch your eye.