Forcing Eye Contact Hurts Your Argument- Mami Was Right

Real-Women have curvesAs children Latinos are taught not to look at their parents when they are being disciplined. Unlike in U.S. culture, looking at a parent when you are being “told-off” is actually a sign of disrespect. A recent study shows that what our parents taught us can actual improve our interaction with others.

A new study shows that forcing eye contact when trying to change someone’s mind may actually cause listeners to become more stubborn.

It all comes down to context.

In intimate situations such as flirting or having a kind heart-to-heart talk eye contact is helpful, but in moments of contention it is not according to the study published last week in the journal Psychological Science. 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.

Prior to the experiment, participants were surveyed on their opinions on various hot-button topics such as animal-farming practices and nuclear energy. The researchers then had them watch videotaped speeches supporting the opposing viewpoint while using eye-tracking technology. Afterward, the subjects were asked whether their attitude had changed.

The ones who focused on the speakers’ gaze were less likely to budge than those looking at other parts of the speaker’s face.

In U.S. culture we are taught that not making eye contact is a sign of weakness, but this new research shows that we are closer to our animal instinct then we think.

Dogs aren’t going to look each other in the eye unless they’re about to fight,

says Julia A. Minson, study author and a social psychologist.

The moral of the story is to remember what Mami taught you. Sometimes it is best to turn away and bring less tension to a tense situation.