Well, mostly other eyes as it turns out. Why? Because the eyes of another carry volumes of information. Nature can be many things but, when it comes to selection of most favorable traits, she doesn’t play around.
Every mother wants her children to succeed, thrive and learn how to survive on their own, and so does this eternal mother of us all. Natural selection is very laser focused on giving her creatures tools to survive. Therefore our species, here just a blink of historic eye, developed quite specific feature -The white space around the iris. This space could have been used to make the pupil larger or to make your green, brown or blue pigment of the eyes wider, but there were more important things to be concerned with – split second communication. If there is a white space around the eye you can see where someone is looking, you can even distinguish from a fairly large distance at what quadrant of your face someone is looking at. The white allows the eye to be more expressive – An extremely valuable asset in momentary decisions of our ancestors who had to distinguish if a person approaching them was a friend or a foe since the safety of their tribe, clan or family depended upon it.
It’s quite hard to see what most animals are looking at from a distance if they don’t have a large color differential of the pupil and iris, but we are madly social and we presume that what others are looking at is interesting and, if it is interesting to them, that is enough social proof to make it interesting or important to us as well. Stand on the street and look up. Soon others will join you to see what you’re observing. We’re very much community oriented and we need to know where others are looking. We even start feeling extremely uncomfortable if people are not looking at us when talking to us, because a segment of communication is missing. If they look away, trough us, above us, into our forehead, at their feet or the sky we feel unconnected, unheard and like we want to end this interaction as soon as possible to stop feeling ill at ease.
We’re very attuned to seeing faces even where there aren’t any. We anthropomorphize inanimate objects in order to give them a facial quality we feel comfortable with – the thing called paraeidolia – where you can find faces in anything at all, the clouds, the walls, abstract art… and we’re equipped with a sort of a tunnel vision where our vision is very clear in the middle of visual field and then it gets blurry as we move into the edges. Yet, we’re also capable of shifting the eyes and turning the head very rapidly. The blurry outskirts of vision are still clear enough to detect movement and our eyes are naturally drawn to it. Were you to look only a few inches away from someone’s face you’d still be able to detect their eyebrows and mouth but it would be fuzzy. If the eyebrows and mouth start moving again you’d instantly look in the eyes and follow where their eyes are pointing at with your eyes, providing they’re not looking directly at you – which is an opened invitation for communication.
So you spy with your little eye, mostly other eyes and they are the most common feature in selling printed materials for a simple reason – you feel the urge to look at them and we as humans are built to obsess about the middle of targets – pupils looking at pupils. Our psychology, games and motor skills are focused around it be it hunting, throwing, catching, looking at the middle of a moving thing… Look people in the eyes when you’re talking to them. There are many levels to any conversation so pay attention to the eyes, they give far more semantic meaning to the syntax of what is being said.