In science, the “Mona Lisa Effect” refers to the impression that the eyes of the person portrayed in an image seem to follow the viewer as they move in front of the picture. Two researchers from the Cluster of Excellence Cognitive
Interaction Technology (CITEC) at Bielefeld University demonstrate that, ironically enough, this effect does not occur with Leonardo da Vinci’s world-famous painting “Mona Lisa” — debunking a scientific legend.
The researchers are presenting the results of their study in the scientific journal i-Perception. “People are very good at gauging whether or not they are being looked at by others. Perceptual psychology demonstrated this in the 1960s,” says Professor Dr. Gernot Horstmann.
Dr. Horstmann is a member of the Neuro-Cognitive Psychology research group at Bielefeld University’s Department of Psychology and the Cluster of Excellence CITEC. Horstmann specialises in eye movement and attention and is one of the two authors of this new study.