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Want to Read Body Language? Don’t Overlook What Eye Contact Can Reveal

Body language makes up a huge part of daily communication. Want to know what someone is really saying? Body language may account for between 60% to 65% of all communication. These nonverbal signals, either intentionally or unconsciously, include facial expressions, gestures, and body movements. But the eyes aren’t just the windows to the soul, as Shakespeare said. Leading psychologists have determined the eyes are also a powerful tool to recognize what someone is really thinking – whether to reveal deception, intimacy, and many other cues. Here are some findings:

  • The Eyes Are a Critical Component of Facial Expressions

Many people would answer “What’s the quickest way to determine if someone is happy or angry?” with whether the person is smiling or frowning. But the eyes and their complex musculature play an important part in expressing emotions. For example, researchers have found that that the eyes are the true tell-tale sign of whether someone is experiencing genuine happiness or faking it. French anatomist Guillaume Duchenne studied emotional expression by stimulating various facial muscles with electrical currents. The “Duchene smile” is named after him. It’s when the eyes narrow and crinkle, creating lines (or “crow’s feet”) at the outer corners. If these ocular cues are missing, the smile is likely fake.

  • The Eyes Can Indicate Fear or Attraction

Making eye contact with another person can immediately trigger awareness. If the other person is a stranger, it may arouse fear. If the other person is someone we know and distrust, the stare may cause us to feel threatened and anger. And, of course, if it’s someone we are attracted to? Mutual eye contact that lingers can indicate attraction and interest.

An additional cue emerging from the eyes is pupil dilation. When we are interested in something or someone, it causes our pupils to widen as we focus on the object. Mutual gazing into another’s eyes can be indicate passion and/or love. Research has proven couples in love tend to do this, and the more they do it and longer they maintain eye contact, the deeper their love for one another.

  • The Eyes Can Be Used to Deceive Others

Conventional wisdom is that a liar can’t look you in the eye. But new research suggests the opposite. In a recent study, when people were asked to either tell the truth or lie, the liars tended to engage in more and longer eye contact than when they were telling the truth.  Researchers concluded that the people telling the lies were aware of the common stereotype about deception and were overcompensating with their eyes when lying.

Knowing how to read someone’s eyes is an effective way to know who to trust and recognize what someone is really trying to communicate or keep from revealing. Knowing your own eyes are healthy and your vision health remains strong is equally important. Annual checkups with your eye doctor, especially as we get older, are more important than ever. Your association and ASBA offer an affordable Vision Plan. The Vision plan provides comprehensive coverage with low copays for important services, including coverage for a WellVision exam every 12 months, as well as big savings on eyewear, contacts, and lenses. Sign up now at www.ASBAdentalvision.com or call 866-979-0497.

Sources: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2898840/https://www.psychologicalscience.org/observer/the-psychological-study-of-smiling#:~:text=Psychologists%20call%20this%20the%20%E2%80%9CDuchenne,facial%20muscles%20with%20electrical%20currents.