Why do people roll their eyes?

It is fairly common to see people roll their eyes. a person rolling eyes signifies disapproval or boredom. It is simply a widely adopted facial expression and the reasons for people doing it is the same as frowning or grinning.

Facial expressions and our endocrine system are closely related. Working of facial expressions and the brain (particularly a part called amygdala)are complementary i.e. one affects the other. Obviously, our brain controls our feelings and thus the facial expressions but it the other way round as well.  If you force upon your face a certain expression, you can trick your brain in feeling something certain associated with that expression.

According to a study by University of Wisconsin-Madison psychology Ph.D. candidate David Havas,  blocking the body’s natural movement as signalled by the brain causes the brain’s “signal” to change. This phenomenon is called feedback hypothesis.
Eyes are certainly very effective in conveying information ( this also depends on the other person. A study suggests, how a person reads other person’s non verbal expressions depends on that person’s endocrine system). Breaking eye contact signifies lack of interest, lowering eyes means respect or embarrassment, direct eye contact may signify competitiveness, even the blinking rate gets affected by emotions.
So why “Rolling eyes”? This particular facial expression really fascinates me because it is so different and somewhat weird.  I can totally imagine the humans of the oldest time (when eye rolling wasn’t “invented” :D) thinking that people may smile or frown but the idea of rolling eyes might have terrifyingly unimaginable.
It’s not like the brain tells the pupils to go look up. It is just a social gesture which is passed from people to one other like other habits such as usage of slang words. Say, a person started using the word “imma” for I am going to. As this person interacted with other people, other people also started using the word “imma” and then it became a social convention. Similarly, people adopt the habit of rolling eyes. You won’t even spot a 1 month old baby rolling his or her eyes.
The question arises why are certain facial expressions adopted?
Facial expression play a major role in communication. About 60% of a public speaker’s ability is judged by the body language. Out of this 60%, 30% is attributed to facial expressions.
Out of curiosity, I searched “boring speeches” on Google and watched some of the videos.

 

And also “interesting speeches”.
In the majority of the “boring videos” the speaker lacked to ability to facially expression what he or she was saying. The content and voice modulation play a bigger role than facial expressions but even they significantly matter.
People associate facial expressions with their understanding and emotions and thus adopt things that are relatable to them or what they think effectively made them understand what the other person was saying. Otherwise, people may also adopt certain things due to peer pressure (this is mostly the case with teenagers) and develop habits that are not influential to them. Peer pressure significantly affects the brain, especially that of adolescents which is highly active in all respects.
In conclusion, eye rolling is nothing but a sister of grinning,  pouting, frowning and raising eyebrows. It might be annoying for others but its significance in making communication effective can’t be ignored.

Fun fact: Having a bad day? Keep a pencil between your teeth and bite slightly. This will trick your brain to think you are happy.

Freaky fact: Emotions are contagious. If the person you are socialising with is depressed, you might end up having unhappy feelings. So, the theory of people radiating negative an positive vibes is somewhat true.

 

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