Enlarge / Researchers at
Bielefeld University in Germany used folding rulers for measurement
to test the effect. Study participants indicated the number they
thought Mona Lisa’s gaze was directed at. (credit: CITEC/ Bielefeld
There have long been anecdotal reports that the eyes of
the Mona Lisa—Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci’s most famous
painting—sometimes seem to follow viewers as they move around the
artwork. The phenomenon is even called the “Mona Lisa effect”
because of it. But a new
study published in the journal i-Perception found that she’s
really “looking” to the right-hand side of her audience.
“There is no doubt about the existence of the Mona Lisa effect,”
the authors wrote. “It just does not occur with the Mona Lisa
The study grew out of ongoing research at Bielefeld University
in Germany on human communication with robots and avatars.
Directional gaze is key when designing gaming avatars or virtual
agents, for instance. That’s one way an avatar/agent can indicate
attention, perhaps directing a player/user towards objects that are
relevant to the task at hand.
Source: FS – All – Science – News
“Mona Lisa effect“ is real, but doesn’t apply to Leonardo’s painting