Why do you sometimes simply ‘feel’ that somebody is looking at you?


Why do you sometimes simply ‘feel’ that somebody is looking at you?

In: Biology


>Humans are sensitive to the gaze of others. When another person changes the direction of their attention, we automatically follow their gaze. It’s more than just being predators, who as a group are naturally sensitive and drawn toward changes in the environment. It also has to do with the cooperative and social nature of humans and how we’ve depended on one another throughout our history and development.
>Another reason, if you look at human eyes in contrast to other animals, the sclera or white part surrounding the pupil is far larger. In most other species, the pupil takes up most of the eye. This is to obscure their eyes from predators. But for humans, a larger sclera allows us to notice the direction of each other’s gaze quickly.
>Of course, we don’t have to be looking directly at someone to tell whether or not they’re staring at us. We can also evaluate the direction of their attention through our peripheral vision. But this method is much less accurate. A pair of studies finds that we can only accurately detect whether or not someone is staring at us within four degrees of our [“central fixation point.”](https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18986070)
>It isn’t always about seeing another’s eyes. With our peripheral vision, we consider the position of their head. And other clues such as how their body is positioned lend to whether we think they’re looking at us or not. What if we’re not sure? Just to be safe, [the brain errs on the side of caution](http://www.pnas.org/content/99/14/9602.short). It assumes we’re being stared at, if there’s any doubt.
>So what about when we feel someone staring from behind? According to a 2013 study published in the journal [*Current Biology*](http://www.cell.com/current-biology/abstract/S0960-9822(13)00332-1), that’s just a fail-safe. Humans are [hardwired ](http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2308318/Think-someones-staring-Youre-paranoid–hard-wired-brains.html)to think that someone is starting at us when we can’t see them, even if we have no evidence to suggest so.
>Psychology Professor Colin Clifford of the University of Sydney’s Vision Centre, found that when people can’t tell where a person is looking, they automatically assume they’re looking at them. “A direct gaze can signal dominance or a threat, and if you perceive something as a threat, you would not want to miss it,” he said. “So simply assuming another person is looking at you may be the safest strategy.”

TL;DR: We have hardwired systems in our brain that enable us to detect when someone is staring at us due to our ability to easily recognize another person’s eyes, even through peripheral vision. Sometimes, we may feel that someone is staring at us even if we can’t even see them, this is a hardwired instinct designed to protect us from predators.

When we see someone’s face, even if we just see it out of the corner of our eye, our brain tries to figure it where they are looking. We may not know our brain is doing it, but it does. So, when our brain decides they are looking at us, we notice it. But because the part of the brain that figures this out is connected to other parts that deal with touch, we get a feeling in multiple systems.


Most likely it’s your unconscious visual perception picking up on things that you don’t directly notice. Your brain processes a lot more visual information than you’re directly aware of, and if another person’s (or animal’s) eyes are pointed at you, you could be in real danger, so it’s very advantageous to have a sort of alarm system to detect that.

Consciously, you wouldn’t be aware of someone looking in your direction if you just glimpsed them out of the corner of your eye. Perhaps you didn’t notice that there was someone there at all. But an unconscious neural mechanism made for gaze-detection could very well pick up on that. Even if it’s very inaccurate and gives you nothing more than a vague sense of unease, if it gets you to spot a predator once and avoid being eaten, that’s already useful enough to keep around.

This book of pseudoscience may interest you.

[The Sense of Being Stared At](https://www.amazon.com/dp/1620550970/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_awdb_t1_hmP8CbDTTG5EA)

Or it could simply be a case of paranoia? You think Jed is looking at you but in reality Jed couldn’t care less.

Because, indeed, something is looking at you. Just because you can’t see them, it doesn’t mean they are not there.

Ok, now I’m creeped out. This makes me think back to all those times I feel someone is watching me but see no one around. 😱

I had a friend who would notice staring, stop doing whatever she was doing, and full on stare back. It happened often and was absolutely hilarious.

Because the monkey who thought they were being looked at and weren’t survived to have more offspring than the monkey who was being looked and thought they weren’t.

All the answers here are about you seeing somebody looking at you in your peripheral vision, but that’s clearly not what you’re asking.

If you are asking why you can “feel” someone looking at you and it turns out to be true, that’s the result of confirmation bias. You notice all the times that you “feel” someone looking at you and when you look up you see that someone is, but you ignore all the times you “feel” someone looking at you and when you look up nobody is.

Okay so I see all of these top comments about whenever our face is in the direction of the person staring at us, but what about whenever they’re behind us?

People tend to notice when events coincide but fail to take notice when they don’t. For example, if I have a dream that something happens, and then something very similar to my dream really happens, that’s fairly noteworthy. But I don’t really notice the other 99% of the time when my nothing similar to my dreams happen – there’s simply nothing to take note of. This tendency is called [confirmation bias](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation_bias) – basically, the tendency to remember the hits and forget the misses. Correctly identifying when someone is watching you may simply be a result of the fact that it’s noteworthy when your feeling is correct, but completely forgettable when it’s not.

We ‘feel’ it sometimes but that does not always make it a fact that others are really looking at us.

We are more likely to think that people are looking at us if we are self conscious and if we think that appearing “normal” or “socially acceptable” is important to us.

If we look up and see that people were in fact looking at us then we remember that incident but not the other 1000 incident when people were not looking even though we ‘felt it’. See “selective attention” and “confirmation bias” for more info.

At some point you did in fact see them looking at you. Maybe out of the corner of your eye, maybe more directly while looking at something else and just didn’t consciously notice but you DID see them. The survival part of your brain noticed though and starts to pester you and you “feel” that you’re being watched.

This has been tested scientifically and when they make sure the people being watched had no way to see the people watching them, the ones being watched don’t sense being watched.

I’d say this feeling of someone looking at you will weigh heavily on how confident someone is or how self conscious. I struggled for years with this and when I reached the point where I wasn’t worried about how I looked (too skinny to being regular weight) my anxiety about people staring at me (when they weren’t) disappeared. We look to others for slight body language cues that say “acceptable or ewwww”. In social places like clubs this was pretty painful for me as women would more often than not, pretty brutal without even saying a word.

This might sound strange to bring up here but I had a long conversation with a really rich friend about this sort of thing with regards to him driving a Lambo through Sydney and being stared at. He explained that you have to resist looking at people that are looking at you. Just stare straight ahead. He went on to say that once you make contact especially with women then they attempt to start a conversion etc and it’s for all the wrong reasons. So, when we went for a drive I spent my time looking at people looking at him with so many men and women look or double looking for an extended period. That would drive me crazy. It was much much worse when his wife drove the car too.


Depending on proximity, you can detect air pressure changes in your ears and on your skin, subtle smells, lighting change queues, and soft sounds to trigger that feeling. Some folks have called it the ‘animal eye’, a combination of your senses to produce an virtual additional ‘sense’ that your brain uses to inform you of things you can’t easily and consciously detect otherwise. It is what makes the hair raise and you get goose pimples sometimes if a shadow crosses you from something above.

Of course, sometimes it doesn’t work – you’ve probably been snuck up on before. Private Investigators are a thing and watch people through binos without them noticing. Sometimes it triggers when there’s nothing there and you get the ‘heebie jeebies’ feelings.

I’m seeing a lot of explanations related to our five senses. Sometimes you just sense someone looking at you, even if they’re not in your line of sight, you can’t hear them or feel them or smell them. I think everyone is capable of getting those feelings. Hunches, gut feelings, intuition, stuff like that. And just because they can’t be explained by science (yet) doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

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might not be accepted by ppl looking for scientific explanations, but my theory is that there are a lot of things… forces, or psychic energies… that are happening around us that we haven’t learned to navigate with our primitive sensibilities.

‘attention’ is your psychic energy being focused on something specific. i think there is a subtle energy that sometimes you pick up on when someone is ‘paying attention’ to you, which might be why you notice it even when you haven’t seen the person

just offering an alternative idea because i think there are a lot of metaphysical dynamics at play that people disregard because we haven’t advanced enough to prove it with our dull physical instruments

basically that you have psychic abilities to pick up on these thing, you just don’t know how to use these abilities effectively

Well… just in case you interesting in non-science explanation: then someone look on you, they also make a sort of connection with you. It works in both ways so you feel the person also.

Non-trained consciousness usually not feel it, but sub-consciousness always do. With better link to your sub-consciousness and better (trained) sensitivity, you will get way more then just feel when someone look on you – you will feel how the person feels himself and how does the person treat you at least.

It also works in same way then someone think about you, but it requires even more better sensitivity.