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 told Broadly. 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:

Women act out aggression in a more concealed manor 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.

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.”

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. “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 stickup for themselves using the glorious eye roll… because of evolution. How awesome is that?

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