# Sunglasses

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As I was driving home with my groceries today, I noticed a biker-guy wearing sunglasses in the parking lot as I drove out. So that got me wondering why people wear sunglasses. I mean, aside from the transparently obvious "it's bright out", which could just as easily be solved by a hat. It occurred to me that, while eye-contact is a sign of confidence, staring is an agressive/dominance signal in many mammals, including primates. Ever notice how you always tend to assume people wearing sunglasses are looking at you, even if they aren't? Maybe it's because this simplified form of "false eyes" gets interpreted by our monkey brains as agressive/assertive/dominant staring, hence why people with sunglasses seem to automaticly seem more "bad-ass". Furthermore, when the body-language doesn't match the message we're seeing from the sunglasses, we become more aware of them as artifical on that person, and think they look out of place (in effect, a dominant look from a clearly subordinate individual).

Of course, it's just a hypothesis that has yet to be tested. Perhaps it could be tested by seeing if random males are more likely to back down from agressive encounters or submit if the individual is wearing sunglasses, especially if that's true cross-culturally.

And obviously some sunglasses have just become fashion accessories. But isn't it possible the initial popularity caught on due to the deep, instinctual reactions?

It's kind of interesting to think of them as a set of "false eyes" for enhancing the appearance of dominance. And we laugh at the "ridiculous" dominance displays of other species...

Mokele

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I never thought about that though perhaps somewhere in my subcutanous layers of thought. It feels that way anway. It very well could be true. And yes, I have noticed in myself that I tend to think that people with sunglasses are watching me. It could also be in part to how egocentric I am though.

I wonder how you could test it though... I'm thinking it would be hard because there is so much diversity and abberations in human behavior to take into account and trying to circumvent the problem of diversity by testing it on one male specimen would be difficult because of obvious reasons.

Damnit. Oh well, there is always a solution. Have hope. Good luck.

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well, among other reasins, people wear sunglasses so that they can "check out" the opposite sex in public without it being obvious. Anyone with sunglasses has done this.

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that got me wondering why people wear sunglasses. I mean, aside from the transparently obvious "it's bright out", which could just as easily be solved by a hat.

Not really. Light that reflects off a surface tends to be polarized, and sunglasses with a crossed polarizer are really effective at eliminating the glare. Not something you can solve with a hat.

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I wonder how you could test it though... I'm thinking it would be hard because there is so much diversity and abberations in human behavior to take into account and trying to circumvent the problem of diversity by testing it on one male specimen would be difficult because of obvious reasons.

The first test that comes to my mind is to just have several guys (each of which may randomly be wearing or not wearing sunglasses, varied each trial) go up to people in a public space like a bust terminal or something and say "You're in my seat" and see how many move. Compare the results with and without sunglasses, see if there's a difference. Repeat across cultures if there is a difference.

If you expand the sample size enough (across numerous individuals as both the victim and agressor, across cultures, locations, mode of dress, etc), and *still* get an effect that's independent of all those (the independence can be checked statistically), there's something to it.

well, among other reasins, people wear sunglasses so that they can "check out" the opposite sex in public without it being obvious. Anyone with sunglasses has done this.

I just don't bother with hiding it behind sunglasses.

Mokele

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I wear them to block UV. They are also polarized to block glare so I can look clearly into the park pool where I work. I can see kids underwater.

I also use them to check out boys with sunglasses. They wonder if I'm looking back

Bettina

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I wear them to block UV. They are also polarized to block glare so I can look clearly into the park pool where I work. I can see kids underwater.

I also use them to check out boys with sunglasses. They wonder if I'm looking back

Bettina

Nice relevant post.

I also use them to check out boys with sunglasses. They wonder if I'm looking back

You certainly like to think so, don't you?

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If you expand the sample size enough (across numerous individuals as both the victim and agressor, across cultures, locations, mode of dress, etc), and *still* get an effect that's independent of all those (the independence can be checked statistically), there's something to it.

Are you just musing or are you doing this for real? If so, how many experiments are you going to do? Heh, seems pretty risky. You'll prolly get your ass beaten a couple of times.

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Are you just musing or are you doing this for real?

Oh, just musing and hypothesizing. Humans are only vaguely interesting, since they lack scales.

Mokele

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For some reason, it seems to me that those mirrored ones give an aggressive message. Maybe because they make it really impossible to tell where the wearer is looking.

However, you have to consider all the practical reasons people wear sunglasses. I was at the optometrist's recently and he asked if I was really bothered by glare. I said that I was, and he explained that there is pigment behind the surface of a person's iris. Even though I have dark hazel green eyes, I have very little pigment below the surface. This makes glare a real problem for me. I must be the Swede in me. Here in the desert Southwest of the United States, sunglasses are much more than a fashion accessory.

Since lizards have aggression rituals, maybe you could design some little sunglasses for them and proceed from there.

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However, you have to consider all the practical reasons people wear sunglasses.

Oh, of course, I was just postulate about some of the underlying reasons why they caught on, why they often seem to be associated with the "bad ass" image, etc.

Since lizards have aggression rituals, maybe you could design some little sunglasses for them and proceed from there.

At the very least I'd get some cool photos....

Mokele

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That is a good thought. After all, staring does seem to be a threatening form of behavior. I wonder if that is why people stare at each other when they are about to get into a fight? That is good thinking, but why do we find staring so offensive? I wonder if animals consider staring a kind of violent sign, or maybe a communication.

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I think many times, it just improves appearance. Maybe it improves the symmetry of their face, not sure. People do seem to be more confident with them. I am unsure if it is my perception that is distorted or thiers.

Another experiment would have people looking at various faces with and without sunglasses. Describe the person behind the face.

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That is a good thought. After all, staring does seem to be a threatening form of behavior. I wonder if that is why people stare at each other when they are about to get into a fight? That is good thinking, but why do we find staring so offensive? I wonder if animals consider staring a kind of violent sign, or maybe a communication.

Just rural experience: Chickens, dogs, horses, cows, goats, pigs, mules, possums, skunks, snakes, and more all seem to using staring as a form of dominance, often preceding aggression.

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Actually, snakes don't use staring as a dominance ritual; they just can't blink. Their eyes are covered with a transparent "spectacle scale" rather than the eyelids of other species. Most snake dominance rituals I'm aware of involve "wrestling" in which the snakes twine around each other and attempt to force each other to submit and give up.

Mokele

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maybe because the sunglasses prevent our ability to tell wether someone is looking at us or not, it makes it harder for us to guage their level of dominance/submissiveness, and makes them seem like they dont have a position on the 'pecking order' of society by being neither dominant to us nor submissive nor equal, sort of like the 'lone-male' you get in monkey-world, or something?

maybe theyre just copying the cool guys in films? role-emulation type-jobby?

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Actually' date=' snakes don't use staring as a dominance ritual; they just can't blink. Their eyes are covered with a transparent "spectacle scale" rather than the eyelids of other species. Most snake dominance rituals I'm aware of involve "wrestling" in which the snakes twine around each other and attempt to force each other to submit and give up.

Mokele[/quote']

I've see that, but I mistook it for a form of foreplay.

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Well, one does have to realize that if you're on a motorcycle those bugs and pieces of sand out there can really do some damage to your eyes if you aren't wearing anything to protect them.

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maybe people wear them to protect their eyes from the Sunshine too

I know I do, as my avatar shows me with them on, but then I am several 1000 feet in the air on a plane above the clouds and its Very Bright! I like to look out the window alot too, so I wore them. occasionaly Ill wear them in the car esp if the suns out just after its been raining.

I think thats why Pilots wear them too, its purely functional.

I do think it looks a bit dorky when you see some people wear them indoors when its not particularly bright at all though LOL

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I would think that sunglasses imbue the wearer with an air of mystery, rather than aggression, probably because the eyes are often used to read and gauge others. However, I can understand how mystery can translate into aggression, for humans tend to rather easily register an unknown as a threat.

Also, could it have to do with the mere shielding of the eyes? I noticed that men who wear caps really low on their brows to the point that I cannot see their eyes also radiate a subtle intensity, similar to those wearing sunglasses. I don't know; maybe that's just me.

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Most people wear sunglasses because(me included) they block the light...duh... and because they feel "cooler" with them. The same reason i wear my cool hawaiian shirt And its a natural survival instict of the brain to want to be accepted by your peers and in society.

secondly, the thing about thinking people are staring at you is also a normal survival instict of the brain. for example when im sitting in the bus reading someone, and i sense out the corner of my eye that someone is turning my direction, i think immediately they are looking at me. Certain eye contact is a sign of aggression and the brains self defense part of the survival instict kicks in and you get nervous or curios if you suspect someone of staring at you.

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If you have ever been on a bike you will quickly know how cold your face gets and how bugs seem to want to go straight into your eyes.

And the full face helmet looks dorkey on a chopper.

plus they get really hot.

And lots if other practical reasons.

Five minuets on a bike at speed will make you really understand.

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In basic training in the British army recruits are taught that in dealing with people in fraught situations they should always remove their sunglasses. Apparently the lack of eye contact resulting from wearing the glasses makes the person not wearing the glasses less co operative and more likely to become aggressive.

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The eyes are a direct doorway into a person's emotions. When the eyes are blocked from view, a person can have no idea what you're feeling. I discovered this years ago from my dad's co-workers. He never takes his sunglasses off and it intimidates them. My dad is very playful and doesn't take himself too seriously. If I ever told his workers this, they wouldn't believe me. I asked my dad why he wears them all the time, and he told me it wasn't because he liked intimidating people, he was just amazed at how a pair of sunglasses could make someone so insecure.

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YT is scary, not because of the sunglasses, because they could probably blow me up with materials around them within a two block radius or just take apart the motorbike with a Victorinox SwissChamp and do it that way.

Other than that, I wear sunglasses so that people can't see if my eyes are open or not it's not about being badass, it's about you not knowing i'm looking at you. If you consider that badass, that's you. Plus I like to take away people who are trained to tell if i'm lying. I also don't like adding to facial emotion. Basically I'm badass.

Other than that, yeah, it is bright outside. Hot also. Hasn't rained in Rockford for a while. Hit the front page today.

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