Locking Eyes with Strangers

By:  Jackie Kuehl, Kenitra Foote, Justin Ortt & Allison Larson (2017)

Concordia University- St. Paul

Faculty Mentor:  Dr. Kim Flottemesch

The topic of reactive body language and eye contact between strangers is necessary research because it differs from typical face to face relational interactions. Stranger interactions among genders and one’s eye contact are often avoided by most people, whether it’s due to the setting, awkward feelings, or one’s vulnerability. It seems like there is a common communicative trend found in Late Generation Y and Early Generation Z, is avoiding eye contact with strangers when outside of one’s comfort zone (Nemko, 2016). The lack of stranger interaction involving eye contact and its effect on society is considered in this study. The researchers chose to investigate how eye contact between strangers differs in today’s society. Specifically, the researchers explored the effect of eye contact in different settings and compared that with race and gender. Participants of the study hailed from a private, faith-based institution of higher education in an urban area in the Midwestern United States. The study thoroughly addressed the relationship between how one averts their eyes because there is an uncomfortable feeling. The lack of eye contact can show a lack of empathy towards the other person; they may go through their day feeling as if they don’t exist.

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