One of the most effective ways of communicating is making eye contact. It helps to draw the listeners, and thereby bringing them to your point of view. According to Bergland (2014), looking deeply into other peoples eyes feels like opening a window into their soul, and some people find it very difficult to make eye contact. As the writer asserts, questions as to why people find it difficult to make eye contact lies in the subconscious, specifically in the cerebellum. It is imperative to note that making eye contact is a key conversation tactic to making any romantic, professional, and social connection. As Bergland (2014) wrote, people rely on eye contact to communicate and connect with each other on an unconscious and conscious levels. For this reason, it is a non-verbal communication that greatly impacts social behaviours, thus eliciting numerous psychological research.
Often, we are faced with different life scenarios which demand eye contact ranging from interviews and maintaining relationships to connecting with new friends. Not making eye contact is a poor mode of communication primarily because the other person may not trust what you are saying. Ideally, most psychologist link not making eye contact to lies. It is for this reason that eye tracking technology has been used to identify whether a person is lying or not in the criminal investigatory procedures while questioning the alleged perpetrator. It is also vital part of remembering, therefore meaning that the listener will most likely remember what you said even after ending the conversation. Therefore, if someone does not maintain eye contact, there is a high possibility that they will not remember what they were talking about. For instance, a joint study between the University of Sterling and the University of Wolverhampton revealed that making eye contacts was associated with increased retention.
However, according to Harbinger (2015), it is also paradoxical that liars have learnt to keep eye contact, however, when confronted, the eye contact is broken. Therefore, it is also important to confront someone whenever you feel that they are lying. In addition, as the author wrote, eye contact is important in making someone more self-aware. This is based on a research finding revealed by researchers of the University of Paris where people tend to be more self-aware when someone else is making eye contact with them when they are not. As such, as the researchers found out, people become more self-aware about themselves and their behaviour whenever someone else is making eye contact.
Conventionally, making eye contact shows that a person is bold and confident, however, whenever a person does not make eye contact, he or she is deemed to be shy or fearful. Therefore, while making eye contact showcases strong personality traits, not making eye contact is considered a weak personality trait. Ideally, researcher have associated not making eye contact with psychological issues and problems. As Wiener-Bronner (2015) writes, new research people exhibiting certain personality traits are uncomfortable when they lock eyes with others, making it feel awkward. In addition, the author wrote that Neuropsychologia, a journal, issued a paper asserting that those exhibiting neurotic characteristics feel uncomfortable whenever they gaze into others. According to Jari Hietanen, psychology professor of Finland, in the paper, the more adverse the condition is, the more neurotic the person is. Ideally, five traits can be used to measure personality, these are extraversion, neuroticism, openness, conscientiousness, and agreeableness. In the paper, Hietanen said that the research they conducted revealed that participants whose test scores showcased aspects of neuroticism factor had more brain activity in correlation with eye contact Wiener-Bronner (2015).
According to Wiener-Bronner (2015) neuroticism is broken down into two subsets, volatility and withdrawal. The latter subset is related to a spectrum of inhibitions, often characterized by depression, anxiety, feeling vulnerable, and high self-consciousness. The former subset is often characterized by hostility, irritability, impulsiveness, and lability. These tendencies are associated with a high degree of lack of eye contact. This means that socializing with a person who does not keep eye contact can be endangering, primarily because of the psychosocial behaviours they may at some instances exhibit.
In relationships, making eye contact is vital as it heightens the partners self-awareness, especially for women. Ideally, as harbinger wrote, it gives a gift to the woman as it shows that the man is listening and paying attention. Therefore, maintaining an eye contact is important is building closeness between relationships and strengthens friendships, thereby improving social life of an individual.
It is also important to note that too much of eye contact can be considered rude, condescending, and hostile (Goman, 2014). On a business context, it can be seen as a deliberate way of dominating, belittling, and intimidating, and in some instances, it can be seen as a mode to take advantage of another because they feel disadvantaged. Therefore, it should also be respectful, gazing at others is not friendly at sometimes.
Section 2: Experiment
Keeping eye contact is a task that many people, especially strangers find it hard to keep. In my experiment, I approached 20 people to examine whether they would be able to keep eye contact with me. Essentially, these were strangers. It was appalling that 18 of them were unable to keep eye contact. However upon introduction of a variable, which was making facial expressions, all of them were able to maintain eye contact. In essence, frowning, smiling, and making funny faces was used. The research was conducted as follows:
Hypothesis and Results
The following approach was utilized in testing the hypothesis in the research:
It was hypothesised that keeping eye contact with strangers was almost impossible with strangers, at least either of the parties would be unable to maintain eye contact in a face to face communication scenario. The method to test this was approaching 20 strangers. As mentioned before, 18 of the strangers were unable to maintain eye contact. For this reason, the results supported the hypothesis.
Method and Results
The method used in this research was approaching people and having a conversation. For instance, finding direction to a convenient store, going to a store and asking the salesperson of particular items in the store and how they could be used were some of the criteria used to elicit a face to face eye contact scenario. However, in order to increase or decrease the human behaviour, a variable was used. In this case, the variable was making a variety of facial expressions, such as making funny faces while having a face to face conversation, in which the researcher maintained eye contact. The same people were approached again and differences were evident between the first time and the second time.
In the first time, 18 of the strangers were unable to keep eye contact. This was a whopping 90%. Meaning that the hypothesis was supported. However, upon introduction of the variable, making funny faces while engaging in the face to face conversation ensuring eye contact, the results were very different. Indeed, in the second course of the experiment, all the strangers were able to maintain eye contact, and they responded very well to the enquiring I made, usually in a free manner compared to the first time.
Maintaining eye contact as mentioned in section one is very difficult, especially with strangers. This has been replicated in the experiment, whereby all the strangers were unable to keep eye contact. However, psychology says that it is possible to control human behaviour. For this reason, a variable being introduce would either increase or decrease the condition. In this case, the variable was making facial expressions, such as funny faces. Ideally, when someone is serious, it can elicit an unfriendly gesture, thereby triggering the other person not to make eye contact, and easy to break the conversation almost immediately. However, upon being friendly, which entails making friendly gestures such as smiling and funny faces, the other person will feel freer to communicate, thereby enabling them to keep eye contact. Therefore, it ca be surmised that eye contact is dependent on the level of seriousness, which triggers belittlement on the other party if the extent of being serious is high, thereby breaking eye contact. However, being freer and making friendly gestures enables the other party to feel comfortable, thereby making eye contact possible.
Goman, C. (2015). Forbes Welcome. Forbes.com. Retrieved 3 December 2015, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/carolkinseygoman/2014/08/21/facinating-facts-about-eye-contact/Harbinger, A. (2015). 7 things everyone should know about the power of eye contact. Business Insider. Retrieved 4 December 2015, from http://www.businessinsider.com/the-power-of-eye-contact-2015-5
Wiener-Bronner, D. (2015). Theres a Reason Some People Hate Making Eye Contact. Fusion. Retrieved 3 December 2015, from http://fusion.net/story/148054/theres-a-reason-some-people-hate-making-eye-contact/
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