Why Can We Sense When We Are Being Watched?

Do you ever have the feeling that someone is watching you? Even if that person is outside your field of vision, you just know! Don’t worry, it happens to all of us! This is not, however, a psychic ability. Just like the “doorway effect” that we have already talked about (here: http://justviral.eu/2016/05/13/the-doorway-effect-or-why-we-forget-things-after-we-enter-a-room/), the feeling that you are being watched is caused by what we like to call “brain magic” and is acbeing-watched-2tually a mix of your brain’s fast processing abilities and humans’ special social tendencies.

Now, what we don’t know or might not realize is that one of the most important parts of communication between two or more people is eye contact. We’re more responsive to eye contact because our body (which is, as you already know, guided by our brain) doesn’t want to miss a potential connection or threat. This is why, even if someone isn’t directly facing you, you can feel their gaze. Your peripheral vision does this for you!

But here comes the tricky (and amazing) part: our brain has a specific system that focuses on detecting other people’s gaze. One important aspect that differentiates us from other animals is that humans have a lot more visible sclera (the white part of the eye) that helps us follow another person’s gaze. While most animals have a tendency of hiding their gaze when hunting, humans, because of their social nature, rely on eye contact when they are trying to build relationships with others.

So why can we still feel when somebody is looking at us even though we don’t see that person? We’ve all been there, we’ve all felt another person’s “eyes directly on our back”. But this has no logical explanation! According to scientists, we assume that other people are looking at us as an over-precaution. It is simply our brain doing its job, trying to keep us safe by alerting us of a possible danger lurking nearby.

So, next time you’re having the feeling that somebody is watching you, trust your instincts! Your brain knows what how to do its job!