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View Full Version : What's the Scientific Basis For Feeling Someone Staring At You?


ThaiGreenTea
06-12-2008, 10:18 PM
Just wondering. A lot of people can "sense" that someone is staring at them, and most times, they are correct. Anyone know how people can tell this if they're usually not even facing said starer?

Bioplasmoid
06-12-2008, 10:23 PM
There must be an experiment that has been done somewhere to shatter this urban myth... I wonder if google knows.

Warning: Completely ridiculous 'flow of thought' theory follows. :p

Perhaps if there is some part of the brain that can detect weak magnetic fields, then when a person is staring at you there may be some kind of fluctuation in the observers nervous system, as they sense a different 'resonant signature' of consciousness interfering with theirs. If pigeons can sense the earths magnetic field with their corresponding magnetite laden beaks, then maybe humans have some kind of sensory organ that exists mostly dormant, due to a lack of exercise of this particular neural pathway. But from time to time it sends chatter to the amygdala, that alerts us to possible predators or companions.

I recall either Colin Wilson or Lyall Watson making a similar link in one of their books. Perhaps I have just plagiarised the idea unintentionally!

thegnat
06-12-2008, 10:46 PM
Google certainly knows. I googled "feeling stared at" without quotes and got...

To view links or images in this forum your post count must be 2 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

and

To view links or images in this forum your post count must be 2 or greater. You currently have 0 posts. 6296D6CF

The first is a bit more open to the possibility, the second says it's chance.

PHS Philip
06-12-2008, 10:55 PM
As far as I can recall, the well conducted studies have come up with a solid rejection of this. You can get the feeling that someone is following you, however, because of minor sensory things that you don't notice. It just doesn't work when you control for the 5 ordinary senses. There are parts of the brain that can be electrically stimulated to produce the feeling of being watched, meaning it's probably a combination of chance and a bit of slightly unusual stuff going on at the time in your brain.

The reason that a lot of these things are so widely believed is that the brain is wired to follow anecdotal evidence much more than statistical, and it also has a strong tendency toward confirmation bias. What it boils down to is that we're programmed to think we're right more often than we are.

Bioplasmoid
06-12-2008, 11:15 PM
Question: Has there ever been a documented correlation between the design of "well conducted" studies and confirmational bias towards a particular conclusion in advance?

PHS Philip
06-12-2008, 11:18 PM
Question: Has there ever been a documented correlation between the design of "well conducted" studies and confirmational bias towards a particular conclusion in advance?

By definition, no. Well conducted means that it eliminated all other variables, so by definition there is no bias.

There are problems with accuracy of initial studies in certain fields (it happens a lot in medicine that the first study on something finds positively, but the majority of subsequent research is negative), but that's due to improper controls.

Marcus
06-13-2008, 02:50 PM
Personally I don't like to do something (like typing code at work) while being watched. I theorized that it is because some ancient survival reflex. I mean that if I get immersed into something then the guy who's watching me can draw his club and hit me from behind. So I must make sure that I'm safe. To extend this theory, I could unconsciously keep track (e.g. based on the noises I hear) whether the other person moved away or started to do some activity. If there is no sign of him doing a harmless activity then my brain could suppose that he was watching me.

hyper84
06-14-2008, 01:55 AM
There is no mechanism in the body that can detect someone staring you other than your eyes. How many people do you look at in a day? If you get the feeling of being stared at, you probably are correct just because people look at other people all the time. The odds go up if you are doing something interesting or are in a public place. Kids sense things in their bedrooms all the time. It's just imagination at work.

Double Victory
06-14-2008, 02:22 AM
It sort of seems like it follows along the same lines as how you can spot an incredibly small movement (like a spider) and take note because it's out of the ordinary, but not particularly care if a car drives by. I was explained that it was just basically instincts--things that were necessary for survival thousands of years ago. It would make sense that we would also be able to pick up on being stared at. I'm sure there are small signs for that that can be picked up by our five senses.

hyper84
06-14-2008, 03:20 AM
Good point. Our brains are able to with remarkable accuracy analyze information gathered by our senses to determine any threat to our bodies. For us, footsteps behind us can alert us to a stalker. So, you may be able to analyze the environment using senses other than vision to gauge whether or not it seems someone is paying attention to you, but it is impossible to tell whether they are actually staring at you from moment to moment without using your eyes.

Monte314
06-18-2008, 11:50 PM
Here's a freaky experiment you can do that allows you to create this phenomenon any time you want.

With your eyes open, point to your forehead... now slowly bring your pointed finger closer and closer to your forehead WITHOUT TOUCHING IT. You will be able to feel the tension in your forehead, even though no physical contact is being made.

ThaiGreenTea
06-19-2008, 12:21 AM
Here's a freaky experiment you can do that allows you to create this phenomenon any time you want.

With your eyes open, point to your forehead... now slowly bring your pointed finger closer and closer to your forehead WITHOUT TOUCHING IT. You will be able to feel the tension in your forehead, even though no physical contact is being made.

O= It works!

Marcus
06-19-2008, 05:03 PM
I always feel my hands dirty if I touched something dirty before. It might be the same phenomena.

Lagawrd
06-19-2008, 06:18 PM
Here's a freaky experiment you can do that allows you to create this phenomenon any time you want.

With your eyes open, point to your forehead... now slowly bring your pointed finger closer and closer to your forehead WITHOUT TOUCHING IT. You will be able to feel the tension in your forehead, even though no physical contact is being made.

Interesting, now does this happen because you told us it would happen, or is there a reason? Besides it does not work when someone else does it to you.

orderandlaw
06-19-2008, 11:05 PM
I'm pretty certain that people are actually hearing what they're assuming is felt. We don't give enough credit to the sensitivity of our ears. I think their presence is heard, just not consciously.

Doppelbock
06-19-2008, 11:46 PM
As far as I can recall, the well conducted studies have come up with a solid rejection of this. You can get the feeling that someone is following you, however, because of minor sensory things that you don't notice. It just doesn't work when you control for the 5 ordinary senses. There are parts of the brain that can be electrically stimulated to produce the feeling of being watched, meaning it's probably a combination of chance and a bit of slightly unusual stuff going on at the time in your brain.

The reason that a lot of these things are so widely believed is that the brain is wired to follow anecdotal evidence much more than statistical, and it also has a strong tendency toward confirmation bias. What it boils down to is that we're programmed to think we're right more often than we are.

I think you are on the right track. When we think somebody is staring at us, we are picking up on subtle cues and processing them subconsciously so it seems we came to the realization psychically.

Grizzly
06-23-2008, 07:49 AM
O= It works!

Here's a freaky experiment you can do that allows you to create this phenomenon any time you want.

With your eyes open, point to your forehead... now slowly bring your pointed finger closer and closer to your forehead WITHOUT TOUCHING IT. You will be able to feel the tension in your forehead, even though no physical contact is being made.

Yeah, how does that work?
Some told me in a bar it was to do with your skin feeling the heat, but the sensory input was muted somehow.

I'm not too sure about the magnetic wave theory.
But it seems to me that such a skill would be a survival trait.
I'm going with idea that its nothing to do with external waves/factors, but more to do with the brain back processing information.

Ex.
The last time the person looked around they subconsciously noticed 3 people staring at them. So then for the next 20-30 min they have this intermittent suspicion that someone is looking at them.

In the wild I think it would translate into, the person noticing 3 roughly eye shaped things in the foliage around them. Thusly they would be at a heightened state of alert, and they would be more attuned for uncommon noises that might be made by a potential predator.

rokxal
06-24-2008, 12:09 AM
I think the tension comes from your eyes being slightly crossed when something comes between the eyes' lines of vision. When someone is stops behind me, i usually notice it from
a) sound (footsteps)
b) periphery vision of them walking from one side and the cognition that they didn't come out of the other side of my periphery vision.
c) heat (maybe i got sensitive hairs :) )

Can't say much for staring as I'm oblivious to everything visual that isn't in my field of vision.

PillowSoup
06-25-2008, 02:03 PM
I personally believe that this is an effect of having Body-Thetans.

DrEast
06-26-2008, 04:44 PM
Me, I think it's hearing based. I never notice people staring at me when I'm listening to music on headphones. They can't catch my eye without touching me. You listen to breathing, hear body movements, a little subconscious echo-location, and bammo, prickly feeling of being stared at.

Uytuun
07-21-2008, 01:49 PM
There's got to be something because I sometimes look up abruptly and stare into the right direction to find someone else staring. Maybe it is also about the probability of staring...maybe subtle clues in the (immediate and general) behaviour of people have us consider them more likely to stare so we're more vigilant and turn our attention to them from time to time.

Doesn't explain the sensation with total strangers, though.

Agile
07-21-2008, 03:33 PM
Here's a freaky experiment you can do that allows you to create this phenomenon any time you want.

With your eyes open, point to your forehead... now slowly bring your pointed finger closer and closer to your forehead WITHOUT TOUCHING IT. You will be able to feel the tension in your forehead, even though no physical contact is being made.

This is so true. I am inclined to think that it's hearing also.

nebulastar0218
07-22-2008, 03:01 PM
I would say expectation. If you expect something, you tend to be on the lookout. I find myself checking the window on the door quite frequently when I expect someone to return. Then by chance, one of my "feelings" will actually be right!

orderandlaw
07-27-2008, 05:30 AM
It is possible that it is an adaptation in certain animals which humans and other animals have lost through the process of evolution.

Then again, it could be a combination of our five senses and information that we are receiving, but just ignoring.

It's a pretty difficult thing to prove, either way.

Xtradi
07-27-2008, 09:28 AM
maybe it related to intuition and/or like orderandlaw said combination of five senses.

it might have something to do with natural mechanism for protection against predator lurking in the distance
(not that it will help you if you have enemy sniper watching from afar, you might feel it but you still can't determine the exact location).

JessicaHavenLea
07-31-2008, 11:04 AM
hmm... interesting.

I can feel when I'm being watched. My boyfriend likes to sneak up and scare the hell out of me. I've just gotten to the point when I know when he's coming even when I don't hear him.