If when in doubt, we tend to feel that eyes must be upon us, could this help explain much of our behavior? From belief in a god staring down at us, to paranoid fantasies, to reluctance to break social norms even when no one is actually paying attention? Via the Telegraph:
The feeling that others are watching us is an evolutionary mechanism designed to keep us alert, experts said.
Prof. Colin Clifford, a University of Sydney psychologist who led the research, explained: “A direct gaze can signal dominance or a threat, and if you perceive something as a threat you would not want to miss it. Simply assuming another person is looking at you may be the safest strategy.”
The researchers asked volunteers to determine in which direction a series of faces were looking. Even without being able to clearly see where the eyes were focused, the participants felt as if they were being watched.