The Power of the Human Gaze
Think of the last time you met someone’s eyes. Perhaps it was an accident with the driver next to you in traffic, or you were meeting the gaze of someone close to you as they apologized for something they had done wrong. No matter the circumstances, eye contact can be incredibly powerful. That’s why Gazepoint is dedicated to helping everyone, from researchers to marketing companies, harness the power of the human gaze through visual tracking software and hardware.
What Happens When We Meet Someone’s Eyes
Whether you are avoiding a stranger’s gaze or earnestly meeting the eyes of a friend or partner, there is a lot of meaning in eye contact. It triggers many processes within our brains, and it can have a powerful effect on how we feel and act. In today’s post, we break down a few of those processes that are triggered when you meet someone’s gaze.
We Pay Attention
Studies have shown that someone looking directly at you will grab your attention more than someone who clearly has their mind on something else. In fact, meeting someone’s gaze can cause you to be less aware of your surroundings. This is the effect you may have experienced when you meet someone’s eyes across a room and everything else seems to fade away.
It Triggers a Social Response
When we meet someone’s eyes, we become more conscious of the fact that they are a thinking, feeling, independent person. In fact, meeting the eyes of an animal in the wild or in a zoo can trigger the same reaction. We realize that we are likely the subject of the other person’s thoughts, which can make us feel self-conscious or judged.
It Affects Our Brains
There are several ways that making eye contact with someone can affect our mental processes, many of which we are almost entirely unaware of. One example is that we tend to remember the faces of those with whom we made eye contact better than the faces of people we simply saw in passing. One negative impact is that meeting someone’s gaze seems to consume a lot of our concentration, and it can be harder to perform challenging mental tasks. This is why many of us have learned to break eye contact if we need to better concentrate on what we’re saying or doing.
We Make Judgments
Another subconscious effect of making eye contact is how it affects our feelings about the person we’re interacting with. In Western cultures, someone who holds your gaze is often perceived to be more intelligent and sincere. On the other hand, if they break eye contact or avoid our gaze, we are less likely to believe what they say. Yet, holding eye contact for too long has been seen as a sign of psychopathy.
One way in which this element of eye contact is reinterpreted is in those on the autism spectrum. A common symptom of autism is a lack of or aversion to eye contact. One study has suggested that this is because people with autism don’t understand the significance of eye contact and/or cannot interpret the social cues in another’s gaze, and therefore don’t utilize eye contact the way others do.
What We Can Learn From the Human Gaze
Studying the human gaze can give us insight into someone’s emotions, intentions, and even their physical health. Gazepoint gives you the opportunity to tap into this with innovative eye-tracking technology at an affordable price point. Our research-grade eye tracker can tell you where the subject is looking, what they ignore or overlook, how their gaze moves over a page, how long they pay attention to an item, and much more. Bring this important data to your academic class or business, and order a Gazepoint software and hardware package today!