The Echoes of the Mind (137-5-2) The Eyes

 The Eyes

Eye contact is way more intimate than words will ever be. ~ Indian author Faraaz Kazi

As we use our eyes to see, they are usually thought of as information receivers; yet they play a vital role in social interaction.

A unique evolutionary adaptation accompanied the descent of humans in the eyes, one that facilitates the strong signaling role that these orbs play: humans are the only one of 221 primates that have whites of the eyes which are easily seen. The sclera of chimpanzees, our closest relative, is brown; as is the case with most apes and monkeys.

Oculesics goes to the meanings in the eyes: making and sustaining eye contact, blinks, eye movement, and pupil dilation. Gazing is one person looking at another. Eye contact occurs when 2 people look each other in the eye.

From birth babies can detect eye contact and gaze direction. Infants prefer people that engage them in eye contact. Within 3 months babies employ eye contact in elaborate interactions with adult caregivers.

By 5 years of age children infer the preferences of others by watching whom and what they are looking at. The longer the gaze the more youngsters assume attraction.

Interpersonal communication typically involves considerable eye contact. In many cultures, conversing without eye contact is considered rude, disinterested, shy, and/or deceptive.

As an indicator of mood, the eyes are the most reliable facial feature. The mouth may deceive but the eyes are an honest signal.

Humans can read highly complex mental states from the eyes of other humans. ~ American psychologists Daniel Lee & Adam Anderson

As an evolutionary adaptation, eyes widen to enhance overall awareness of a scene, or narrow to sharpen focus. Emotively, eye widening shows surprise or fear. Narrowing the eyes suggests skepticism or disgust.

Conveyance of mental states via the eyes align with the physical mechanics of sight. Because of this, the eyes cannot lie.

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Looking at the eyes of another is such a powerful communication act that it must be carefully controlled. People commonly restrict eye contact to brief glances; but, upon occasion, eye contact unleashes its power by sustainment: either gazing lovingly or fixing a stare of hostility.

Eye contact is always influential. Gaze can be positively persuasive. Conversely, avoiding eye contact creates a strong negative impression.

In every culture there are strict but unspoken rules for the proper duration of eye contact. The average American gaze lasts 2.95 seconds.

Nominal mutual gaze duration is 1.18 seconds. Any shorter and a person is perceived as uninterested, shy, or preoccupied. Lingering mutual gaze intimates unusually high interest.

Eye contact serves several communication functions:

1) expressing interest and signaling attentiveness, including flirtation,

2) increasing interpersonal immediacy and intimacy,

3) facilitating processing emotional information from an interactant,

4) monitoring and regulating interaction, including turn-taking signals, and

5) indicating cognition when eye contact is broken.