Science Just Explained Why Women Roll Their Eyes So Much


It's not that eye rolling is a distinctly female gesture, but science may have just explained why ladies love doing it so much.


Women roll their eyes, in part, as an evolutionary strategy, the University of Ottawa's Dr. Tracy Vaillancourt said. Dr. Vaillancourt, who conducted a study of indirect aggression by women in 2013, explains this particular behavioral trait comes as second nature because it actually is second nature. Here's why:

加拿大渥太华大学的特雷西·瓦兰柯尔特(Tracy Vaillancourt)博士认为,女性翻白眼是一种进化策略。瓦兰柯尔特在2013年进行了一项关于女性间接攻击行为的研究,她解释称,这一特殊的行为特征之所以被视为第二天性,因为实际上它确实表明男女有别。原因如下:

Women act out aggression in a more concealed manner than men using a tactic called indirect aggression, including behaviors like “criticizing a competitor's appearance, spreading rumors… and social exclusion*.” Also, you guessed it… the eye roll.


*social exclusion 社会排斥(指孤立和贬低社会中的某些群体)

So, what's an eye roll even mean? Well, Dr. Vaillancourt says, “It's a lower-risk aggression strategy. Evolutionary psychologists think that women use low-risk aggressive strategies over high-risk aggression strategies because, historically, women have needed to survive for our offspring to survive.”


Basically, men react to competition physically, oftentimes* by fighting. And women, glorious women, opt for less risky techniques: “Women typically don't use verbal or physical aggression,” Vaillancourt explains. “There's many different reasons for this, but I think that there would have been some selection pressure involved. There are more benefits to indirect aggression. For example, you could harass* competitors, and attract more mates, all without engaging in a physical confrontation.”


*oftentimes:on many occasions 在许多场合下,在许多情况下

Oftentimes a company will contribute toward an employee's moving expenses.


*harass:to continue to annoy or upset someone over a period of time 骚扰;使烦恼,打扰

Stop harassing me!


The New York Times also delves into* the fascinating science behind the eye roll, with a focus on teenage girls. Psychologist Lisa Damour theorized that the eye roll was the only way for an oppressed teen to express her longing for autonomy.

《纽约时报》也对翻白眼背后的科学进行了一番研究,并重点研究了少女的这一行为。心理学家丽莎·达莫尔(Lisa Damour)提出理论称,对于一个“受压迫”的女孩而言,翻白眼是她们追求“自主权”的唯一方式。

*delve into sth:to examine something carefully in order to discover more information about someone or something 深入探索;探究

It's not always a good idea to delve too deeply into someone's past.



“By rolling her eyes while putting away the plates, the girl establishes that she's an independent state electing to yield, for now, to the regional power,” Damour writes. Translation: She'll put away the dishes, but only after she gives her parents a bit of attitude.


So, now you know that girls stick up for* themselves using the glorious eye roll… because of evolution.


*stick up for sth/sb:to support or defend someone or something, especially when that person or thing is being criticized 支持,捍卫,维护(尤指受到批评的人或物)

I can stick up for myself.




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