October 2, 2013

Eye contact might not work.

A study.
The students who looked at the speakers' eyes changed their attitudes less than the people who looked at the speakers' mouths. They also said they were less interested in hearing more about the views presented.


Kirk Parker said...

"Researchers in Germany..."

Bzzzt! Hold it right there!

If this study didn't cross significant cultural boundaries, how do we know they're measuring something universal rather than culturally determined? [Cue the usual jokes about Finns and eye contact...]

Rob said...

Since they were using a convenience sample (undergraduates), I wonder why they stopped the second trial after only 42 subjects. A higher n would have produced more reliable results, and the cost couldn't have been very high. Maybe once they got significant findings they stopped looking, lest the significance drop with further testing and the publishability of their results vanish, like tears in the rain.

traditionalguy said...

Eye lock is aggressive and confrontational, which elicits a like response. But flirting glances are intriguing while timed with a mirroring body language.

One teacher told us to look at the speakers right eye a while and then at the left eye for awhile, but never stare into both eyes.

The Bloggingheads performances are an example. Glenn Loury seldom looks into the camera. LaAlthouse emotes charm in her answers interspersed with a sudden authoritative diatribe of a Professor at a teaching moment.

Balfegor said...

Eye-contact is emphasized as a persuasive technique in America to the point that I find people who actively try to maintain eye-contact with me during a conversation or presentation super untrustworthy. It's like a signal that they are trying to sell you something -- probably lies.

I don't think it has quite the same credibility-sapping effect for other people, though.

Meade said...

Uh, excuse me? My mouth is down here.

Peter said...

One thing I learned as a pedestrian in Manhattan was, never make eye contact with the driver of a motor vehicle.

Because once they know you've seen them, they're not going to stop. Indeed, the lack of eye contact worked just about as well with other pedestrians- they'd get out of my way rather than risk a collision.

No eye contact also seemed to work for getting into apartment buildings with doormen. If I made eye contact they'd ask who I was and where I was going; no eye contact and there was usually no challenge. Perhaps they thought I might live there, even though they didn't recognize me?

In any case, it surely is not true that more eye contact is necessarily better in all social situations.