People may make assumptions about your heritage based on your eye color, or they may believe you have different personality traits because of your eye color. Additionally, there may be some correlation between your eye color and your sporting abilities. Does eye color really determine how you will behave or how you are perceived by others? While correlation between the two can be shown to be very strong, it does not imply causation, still there are some interesting parallels between eye color and personality traits.
Eye color is caused by a number of genes working in tandem to produce proteins in your iris that in turn causes different levels of melanin to be present. Lower levels of protein lead to lower levels of melanin, which leads to lighter eye colors such as blue and green. Greater levels of protein lead to greater levels of melanin in the iris, which leads to darker eye colors such as hazel and brown.
The two genes that do most of the work are the OCA₂ and HERC₂ genes. The former actually produces the protein that determines how much melanin will be present in the iris, while the latter limits how much protein the former can produce. It’s a lot more complicated than you learned in high school biology class.
Most American caucasian babies are born with blue eyes, though only one in six retains blue eyes into adulthood. Babies from African, Hispanic, and Asian descent are typically born with darker eyes. Melanocyte levels will fluctuate until around a baby’s first birthday when the baby will likely have its permanent eye color. Greater melanin activity leads to darker eyes, and less melanin activity leads to lighter eyes.
So what does all this eye color business mean, anyway? There have been empirical studies that have shown people with darker eyes to be better at sports like boxing and tennis while people with lighter eyes are shown to be better at sports like bowling and golf. As interesting as that is, those studies did not show a causal relationship. Perceptions, on the other hand, are completely objective. People with darker eyes tend to be perceived as more honest and trustworthy, while the same group has also been found to be more sympathetic than those who have lighter eyes.
Genetic anomalies can throw a monkey wrench into all that anyway. Elizabeth Berkley, who was catapulted to fame during her days on Saved by the Bell, has one eye that is half brown and half green. Is she perceived as half trustworthy? Kiefer Sutherland has eyes that are two different shades of blue, so is he better at bowling depending on which eye he has closed? And Mila Kunis has one hazel and one green eye, so there’s no telling what her tennis game would look like.
Learn more about the science behind eye color from this infographic. What does your eye color say about you and how has it impacted your place in the world? There’s a lot more to it than you might think!