If you look at your loved ones for 3 minutes, you will run into tears. Why is the power of gazing so strong?

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 If you look at your loved ones for 3 minutes, you will run into tears. Why is the power of gazing so strong?


Produce | Netease Scientist Column Group

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In the past few years, there has been a very popular behavior test on Weibo, that is, to have close people look at each other and test whether they can look at each other for more than three minutes. The results showed that most people could not hold on, and many couples, mothers and daughters, father and daughter groups were crying in the experiment. This complex, unconscious response is not deliberate or pretended. Why does eye contact have such a powerful shock?

There are scenes in movies where the rest of the world becomes gloomy when you and another soul are briefly connected by gazing at each other and in common perception. Although eye contact is not always so exciting, it is almost always very important.

We can deduce a persons personality characteristics by the degree of eye contact when people talk to us, or by looking elsewhere when talking to us. When we pass strangers on the street or in other public places, if they dont make eye contact, we feel rejected. This is our daily experience. But psychologists and neuroscientists have been studying for decades and have revealed more about the power of eye contact.

For example, many studies have found that gazing at the eye is more attractive to us and less noticeable of other things that are happening around us. Moreover, when we realize that we need to guess the thoughts of another person who is looking at us, eye contact with others almost immediately triggers a series of brain activity. As a result, we will pay more attention to the initiative of others and understand that they have their own ideas and opinions. Conversely, it makes us have a stronger sense of self.

If youve ever looked at monkeys or apes in a zoo, you might notice these effects: they deliberately judge and examine your presence, a profound feeling that can hardly be overcome. In fact, even looking at a portrait that seems to be making eye contact can trigger a series of brain activities related to social cognition. This brain region involves thinking about yourself and others.

In a recent study by Japanese researchers, volunteers completed word challenges while watching people in videos, including figuring out verbs that match nouns. The results showed that when the people in the video seemed to be making eye contact with the volunteers, the volunteers were more laborious in the challenge. Researchers believe that this is because eye contact is so influential that it depletes our cognitive reserves.

Similar studies have found that looking directly at other people can also interfere with our memory (that is, our ability to remember and use information in a short time), imagination and mental control (that is, the ability to suppress irrelevant information). You may have experienced these effects personally, or you may not have realized that this effect occurs whenever you interrupt eye contact with others in order to better concentrate on what you say or think. Some psychologists even suggest looking away as a strategy to help young children answer questions.

Studies have also shown that eye contact not only puts our brains in a state of social speeding, but also affects our perception of people we meet. For example, we often think that people with more eye contact are smarter, more serious and more sincere (at least in Western cultures), and we tend to believe what they say. Of course, too much eye contact can make us feel uncomfortable, and people who keep their eyes on each other can make us feel creepy.

In one study, psychologists recently tried to determine the optimal eye contact time. They concluded that, on average, the gaze took three seconds. As for why eye contact with other people in the room makes people feel so attractive, studies have found that gazing at each other can lead to a sense of self-integration with others to some extent. Perhaps, in appropriate circumstances, when other people are busy talking to others, this effect will make you feel like you are sharing a special moment with the person you are looking at.

This is not the only chemical reaction in eye contact. If you choose to be close to each other, you will find that eye contact also connects you in another way. This process is called pupil mimicry or pupil contagion. This is mainly because both pupils enlarge or shrink synchronously. This is interpreted as a subconscious social imitation, a visual dance, and a more romantic choice.

Recently, however, some people have been skeptical about this. Researchers say that this phenomenon is only a response to changes in the brightness of another persons eyes. But this does not mean that pupil dilation has no psychological significance. In fact, as early as the 1960s, psychologists have studied how pupils expand when we are stimulated by intelligence, emotion, aesthetics or sex. This leads to a debate about whether a larger pupil face will be perceived as more attractive by bystanders. At least some studies have shown this.

Anyway, centuries before the study, folk wisdom certainly thought pupil enlargement was attractive. In different historical periods, women even used plant extracts to deliberately expand their pupils to make themselves more attractive. But when you look into another persons eyes, dont think its just their pupils that are sending you messages. Other recent studies have shown that we can read complex emotions from eye muscles. For example, when aversion makes us squint, this look also signals aversion to others.

Another important feature of the eye is the limbal ring, the dark circle around the iris. Recent evidence suggests that these bonds are more common in younger, healthier people, and bystanders know this to some extent, such as heterosexual women looking for short-term relationships who think men with more obvious bonds are healthier and more attractive. All these studies show that the old adage that eyes are windows to the soul is absolutely right.

In fact, gazing into other peoples eyes has an incredible power. Our eyes are the only part of our brain that faces the world directly. When you look into another persons eyes and think: This may be your closest touch the brain, more poetically, touch the soul.

Source: Liable Editor of Netease Scientist: Qiao Junyi_NBJ11279