Why You Don't Need To Look Everyone In The Eye

If you're trying to win a skeptic over to your side, direct and sustained eye contact can work against you, according to new research.

What's the Latest Development?


Using eye-tracking technology, researchers at the University of Freiburg observed test subjects as they watched videos of speakers discussing certain political issues. They found that the longer the viewers focused on the speaker's eyes, particularly if the speaker was looking directly into the camera, the less convinced they were of the argument. Those who disagreed with the speaker's argument, or who had no opinion on the topic, were left even more unconvinced than those who agreed.

What's the Big Idea?

The importance of direct eye contact in business and personal interactions has been stressed for decades. The study findings, published in Psychological Science, suggest that in some cases, it's not always a good idea. The reason may have to do with evolution: Eye contact among certain animals signals aggression and the creation of "a social dynamic characterized by resistance to persuasion." Further demonstrating this point is a separate experiment in which participants were given a choice of looking at a speaker's eyes or their mouth. Those who looked at the speaker's mouth were more persuaded by the argument.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

Read it at Ars Technica

Big Think Edge
  • The meaning of the word 'confidence' seems obvious. But it's not the same as self-esteem.
  • Confidence isn't just a feeling on your inside. It comes from taking action in the world.
  • Join Big Think Edge today and learn how to achieve more confidence when and where it really matters.
Videos
  • Prejudice is typically perpetrated against 'the other', i.e. a group outside our own.
  • But ageism is prejudice against ourselves — at least, the people we will (hopefully!) become.
  • Different generations needs to cooperate now more than ever to solve global problems.


Active ingredient in Roundup found in 95% of studied beers and wines

The controversial herbicide is everywhere, apparently.

(MsMaria/Shutterstock)
Surprising Science
  • U.S. PIRG tested 20 beers and wines, including organics, and found Roundup's active ingredient in almost all of them.
  • A jury on August 2018 awarded a non-Hodgkin's lymphoma victim $289 million in Roundup damages.
  • Bayer/Monsanto says Roundup is totally safe. Others disagree.
Keep reading Show less

Scientists see 'rarest event ever recorded' in search for dark matter

The team caught a glimpse of a process that takes 18,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years.

Image source: Pixabay
Surprising Science
  • In Italy, a team of scientists is using a highly sophisticated detector to hunt for dark matter.
  • The team observed an ultra-rare particle interaction that reveals the half-life of a xenon-124 atom to be 18 sextillion years.
  • The half-life of a process is how long it takes for half of the radioactive nuclei present in a sample to decay.
Keep reading Show less