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12-Year-Old Uses Dungeons And Dragons to Help Dad Solve Scientific Riddle

Monster Manuel
Tifotter, Flickr

When you look at someone, you are immediately drawn to their eyes. Scientists have been unsure if this is because humans are programmed to stare at eyes or at faces in general.

Alan Kingstone, a psychologist at the University of British Columbia, had been working on this quandary and was having trouble thinking of an experiment which separated the eyes from the center of the face. He was telling his 12-year-old son Julian about it when the boy came up with an inspired idea.

Julian, a dedicated Dungeons and Dragons player, told his dad that in D&D many of the monsters have eyes in unusual places — like their tails. So why not conduct an experiment using the ‘D&D Monster Manual,’ which has illustrations of these fictional beasts?

Dad was so impressed that he had Julian pulled out of school briefly so he could help with the experiment, which tracked the eye movements of 22 volunteers as they looked at a variety of creatures, some humanoid and others with their eyes away from their face.

What they found is that people quickly seek out eyes — whether they were on the monster’s face or another part of its body — and then stare at the eyes frequently when they find them.

The results of the study were published in the Journal Biology Letters under the title ‘Monster Are People Too.’ For his help, Julian was listed as the paper’s first author.

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