“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.”
Few popular beliefs are as unshakable as, “If you want to influence someone, always make direct eye contact.” But new research suggests that this bit of sturdy pop lore is hardly gospel – in fact, in many circumstances a direct gaze may result in the exact opposite effect.
Researchers from Harvard, the University of British Columbia and the University of Freiberg used newly developed eye-tracking technology to test the claim during two experiments. In the first, they had study participants watch a speaker on video while tracking their eye movements, and then asked how persuaded they were by the speaker. Researchers found that the more time participants spent looking into the speaker’s eyes, the less persuaded they were by the speaker’s argument. The only time looking into the speaker’s eyes correlated with being influenced was when the participants already agreed with the speaker’s opinions.
So the first takeaway is: when a speaker gives an opinion contrary to the audiences’, looking into her or his eyes has the exact opposite of the intended effect.
In a second experiment, some participants were told to look into the speaker’s eyes and others were told to watch the speaker’s mouth. Once again, participants who looked into the speaker’s eyes were less receptive to his opposing arguments, and also said they were less inclined to interact with advocates of the speaker’s argument.
Which leaves us with another takeaway contrary to the popular belief: if your audience is already skeptical of your arguments, looking into your eyes will not only reinforce their skepticism, but also make them less likely to interact with others expressing your views.
According to Julia Minson of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, co-lead researcher of the studies, “The findings highlight the fact that eye contact can signal very different kinds of messages depending on the situation. While eye contact may be a sign of connection or trust in friendly situations, it’s more likely to be associated with dominance or intimidation in adversarial situations.”
Her advice to everyone from parents to politicians: “It might be helpful to keep in mind that trying to maintain eye contact may backfire if you’re trying to convince someone who has a different set of beliefs than you.”
In the next round of research, the team is going to investigate whether eye contact in certain situations correlates with patterns of brain activity associated with responding to a threat, and an increase in stress hormones and heart rate.
There’s a corollary to these findings that’s found throughout the animal world, one that everyone who deals with everything from dogs to gorillasalready knows – looking directly into a potentially aggressive animal’s eyes is not a good idea. The gesture is taken as a threat and might draw an attack.
Quoting another of the researchers, Frances Chen, “Eye contact is so primal that we think it probably goes along with a whole suite of subconscious physiological changes.”
The study was published in the journal Psychological Science.
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Walter Unger CCIM, CCSS, CCLS
I am a successful Commercial Investment Real Estate Broker in Arizona now for 15 years and I worked with banks and their commercial REO properties for 3 years. I am also a commercial landspecialist in Phoenix and a Landspecialist in Arizona.
WHETHER YOU LEASE OR OWN
NOW IS THE TIME FOR YOU TO EXPAND, UPGRADE OR INVEST.
we are at on the a rise of the cycle in Commercial Real Estate. so there is only one way and it’s called we are going up and now is the time for you to expand, upgrade or invest in Commercial Properties in Phoenix. The prices on deals I may get you will not be around forever.
WAITING TO SELL YOUR LAND ? TIMES CHANGE / IT’S TIME
We barely could give land away the last few years, but times are changing. Even in those meager years, I sold more land across the state than most other brokers. Before the real estate crash I was a land specialist in Arizona with millions of dollars of transactions, but then I had to change and also sell other commercial investment properties, which was fun, but I am a Commercial Landspecialist in Arizonal, a Commercial Land Specialist in Phoenix and love to sell land, one acre to thousands of acres.
If you have any questions about Commercial Investment Properties in Phoenix or Commercial Investment Properties in Arizona, I will gladly sit down with you and share my expertise and my professional opinion in Commercial Properties in Phoenix or Commercial Properties in Arizona with you.Obviously I am also in this to make money, but it could be a win-win situation for all of us.
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