Look me in the eye: Amazing facts about eye contact and what it says about us
Since ancient times the eyes have been considered as a mirror of the soul. Indeed, eye contact is one of the most critical aspects of body language.
When meeting a person for the first time, their gaze unconsciously registers many external impressions in us. We get a glimpse of their character, their mood and perhaps their feelings.
How many times have we been caught in another person's eyes or their expressiveness, noticed a hint of shyness, sincerity or even deceit?
What about you? Do you have a sharp and focused gaze or tend to be evasive? When talking to people, do you lower your eyes or look away? This can reveal countless things about us.
We notice when someone meets our eyes, and we are very aware of where our eyes wander. When we are standing in a room, sometimes, we can "feel" someone is looking at us.
All of these sensations we can quickly get from our everyday experiences. However, for years, scientists have been studying eye contact looking to better understand the power of the gaze and what our eyes reveal.
Gets and holds our attention
Have you ever been in a meeting or a conversation and felt how that strong gaze from the speaker captures you and "freezes" everything else around?
Locking eyes with another person sets off a series of brain processes that is making us aware of the mind of the other person, almost shutting down our surroundings making us less aware of it.
Makes us more self-conscious
Realising that we are the object of someone else's attention can be highly distracting. In fact, a study showed that being looked at while doing a verbal processing activity drains our cognitive reserves. This might explain why many of us prefer to be alone when we need to concentrate on something fully.
You might find that someone who is making eye contact with you makes you more aware of your thoughts and how you feel and behave. But this is not necessarily a bad thing. Use it to be aware of yourself in a positive light and give some thought the kind of impression you might be making.
Having someone look at us directly can also have an effect on our immediate memory and our imagination according to scientific studies. Remember the many times you've needed to break eye contact with someone to remember something or think about what you are saying.
As we mentioned before, eye contact can influence our perception of the other person making visual contact with us. Some scientists have found that we tend to believe that people who make more eye contact are perceived as more intelligent and sincere.
Also, other research has pointed out that holding someone's gaze can create attraction. What's more, adding a smile to that well-held gaze can enhance the effect even more.
Of course, don't overdo it! Staring without letting go, will make people uncomfortable or even think you are creepy or psychopathic. Keep it in the three to nine second range, experts say.
Be aware of your gaze as and that of others. Indeed, eyes can be our biggest tell!