The Washington Post:
“Look at me when I’m talking to you!”
If you’ve ever used that line during a disagreement, you might want to think again. Forcing eye contact when trying to change someone’s mind may actually cause listeners to become more stubborn, a new study shows.
Researchers found that subjects made to hold eye contact with a speaker were less open-minded and held steadfast to their original opinion, more so than those who looked elsewhere.
“Eye contact is a very intimate thing,” said Julia A. Minson, study author and a social psychologist. “So when you’re in a situation that feels confrontational, I think it’s more likely to put people off.”
Locking eyes with another person can feel bonding or threatening, depending on the context. Between a mother and her infant, eye contact helps build a stronger connection. Exchanging flirty glances across a crowded bar heightens attraction and activates pleasure centers in the brain.
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