Making eye contact may be "counterproductive"
Making eye contact with someone may not be as an effective way of persuading others to agree with you as previously thought, according to new research.
Common belief among American culture often views eye contact as a powerful tool when trying to persuade or convince a disagreeing party. However, the study, published in an online issue of Psychological Science, suggests that making eye contact can actually reinforce disagreement and decrease the power of persuasion.
Researchers conducted two experiments to examine the effects of eye contact in different situations involving persuasion.
In the first experiment, they had participants watch videos of public speakers giving persuasive social and political speeches, while they tracked the viewers’ eye movements. Their findings showed that the more eye contact the viewers made with the speakers, the less likely they were to be convinced of the speakers’ points of view.
In the second experiment, participants looked at either the speakers’ eyes or mouths during the speech. Findings confirmed those from the first experiment, as viewers who looked at speakers’ mouths were more likely to be persuaded by the speech than when they made eye contact.