Written by Emily Dixon, CNN The Mona Lisa is famed for two things: her enigmatic smile and her steady gaze, widely believed to follow her viewers around the room. Indeed, Leonardo da Vinci’s world-renowned painting, also known as “La Gioconda,” inspired the name of a scientific phenomenon: the Mona Lisa effect, or the perception that the subject of an image is always looking directly at you, no matter where you stand.
Previous research cited in the study indicates the range of the Mona Lisa effect: the subject of an image will appear to be looking at its viewer if its gaze is within 5 degrees to the left or right. The gaze of the “Mona Lisa,” however, was measured by the study participants at an average angle of 15.4 degrees to the right — in short, the Mona Lisa is definitely not looking at her audience.”There is no doubt about the existence of the Mona Lisa effect,” Horstmann and Loth concluded. “It just does not occur with Mona Lisa herself.”