Ever wanted to look confident during a job interview but the thought of locking eyes with your potential new boss makes you shudder? Well, you can relax now, because it turns out that making direct eye-contact isn’t necessary for interviews or other interactions, according to a recent study by Edith Cowan University (ECU) researchers.
One researcher was assigned to take part in a four-minute conversation with each of the 46 participants in the study. The researcher and the participants were given eye-tracking glasses to wear during the conversations. For about half of these conversations, the researcher’s gaze was mostly directed at the participants’ eyes, but for the other half, the focus was mostly on the mouth area.
After the exchanges, all the participants rated their conversations.
The results showed that not only did the participants from both groups (the eye and the mouth groups) enjoy the conversations to a similar extent but that they also perceived the same amount of eye contact.
These results, according to the lead author of this study, Dr Shane Roberts, could bring a sigh of relief to people who experience anxiety when making direct eye contact with others or when they’re being looked at.
He also says that this research puts a dent on the cultural idea that it’s necessary to maintain direct eye-contact in a conversation to show that you’re a confident and/or trustworthy person.
Where do we look instead?
Just about anywhere around the face or head area will do, says Dr Roberts. This, he says, is because people aren’t very good at determining whether you’re looking at their eyes or any other part of their face.
In fact, Dr Roberts says that looking “generally” at our conversation partner’s face is fine and that the “illusion” of eye contact from their side will take care of the rest for us.
I guess we can finally say goodbye to awkwardly scrambling around, trying to figure out the best way to capture someone’s gaze without looking like a creep! Or was that just me..?
More from Lifestyle & Living
Written by Tesneem Ayoub