What symbolizes eye contact

Eye contact: how long is too long?

The eyes make a person unique. During the conversation, we automatically look into the eyes of our counterpart, because these provide information about what is going on in him or whether we consider him or her to be trustworthy and credible. More persistent Eye contact is therefore considered a vote of confidence: if you don't look the other way, you have nothing to hide. At least that's the common cliché. But how long should you look each other in the eye? And is there one too long for that? “Yes there is,” says Alan Johnston from University College London. He should know: he just discovered that optimal duration for eye contact

Hold on! What the eyes reveal

"I'll look you in the eye, little one"says Humphrey Bogart to Ingrid Bergman in the film Casablanca. In fact, people orientate themselves with first impression first on the face of his counterpart.

Time and again, scientific studies provide evidence that we humans because of their face and especially the literal one Momentary than different trustworthy assess. Karel Kleisner from Charles University in Prague found out that Men with brown eyes appear more trustworthy than those with blue eyes.

In fact, our Eye game reading and interpreting a lot and making eye contact. Here some examples:

  • Who talks blinks more often than one who is silent. If this is the other way around, one can assume that the listener will be bored.
  • Common Ringing eyes again, as women like to use when they signal interest in a man (proverbial: make beautiful eyes), is actually a gesture of submission.
  • The rigid one intense look on the other hand, it is seen as a sign of strength and charisma. The actor Michael Caine, for example, is said to have practiced for years to increase his theatrical effect and hardly have to blink when taking close-ups.
  • Fixing one's counterpart visually can also be intimidating. The scrutinizing look unsettled. Correspondingly, many business people play a kind on first contact Eye micado: Whoever looks away first has lost. Then it is clear who has the weaker nerves.

Eye contact: No longer than 3.3 seconds

Eye contact is like all things: The dose makes the poison. When Alan Johnston and his colleagues from University College London recently tried to find the optimal eye contact duration, they experimented with more than 400 test subjects and a wide variety of personalities.

In fact - despite their different characters - it turned out to be all after an average of 3.2 seconds of continuous eye contact Discomfort a. Anyone who looked the test person directly in the eye for a longer period of time was classified as threatening and gambled away sympathy points and his trust bonus with every additional second.

A British study by Nicola Binetti comes to a similar conclusion. 500 visitors to a London museum from a total of 56 nations (aged 11 to 79) took part in the experiments. Result: eye contact should no longer than 3.3 seconds last. For so long, however, the majority found him pleasant.

Of course, it has to be said that these are expressly initial contacts. Good friends and Lovers will be able to look each other intensely in the eyes for longer - with the latter, it tends to increase the positive feelings.

That very few people withstand a long moment, but also show experiments by Donald Elman from Kent State University in 1977: At that time, the researchers stood at a traffic light intersection and stared intensely at red drivers. Their subsequent measurements showed: Those who were so amazed stepped on the gas much faster when they were green. Even so, smiling in attempts could do that Escape reflex neutralize.

Eye contact is unruly

It is true in this country as polite to look your interlocutor straight in the eye - when speaking as when listening. Researchers at the University of Freiburg found, however, that too intense eye contact is more likely to trigger psychological resistance.

In the related experiments, the test participants watched videos of speakers, then their reactions to their arguments were examined. Result: Anyone who was skeptical of the content and was exposed to strong eye contact at the same time, reacted unruly and was hardly ready to change one's mind. Rather, these subjects tended towards the speaker contradict and reject his opinion. Eye contact was viewed as an attempt at manipulation - which had to be resisted. On the other hand, the defensive stance did not apply to test subjects who were asked to pay more attention to the mouth instead of the eyes.

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[Photo credit: Stas Ponomarencko, Nina Buday, Voronin76 by Shutterstock.com]