Academy of Finland
Funding decision
Name Hietanen, Jari
Organisation TAY
Project title Eye Contact and the Meeting of Minds
Decision No. 266187
Decision date 13.12.2012
Funding period 01.01.2013 - 31.12.2016
Funding 549 987
WebFOCUS Report
Project description
In the project, we showed that eye contact with another person activates the autonomic nervous system, evokes brain activity associated with approach behavior, and enhances individuals’ self-awareness. The critical factor for these reactions is the observer’s awareness of being seen by another person, not simply the visual appearance of someone's eyes. We also investigated whether social exclusion (ostracism) has an influence on the interpretations on whether another person is looking towards oneself (eye contact) or away. In laboratory-based experiments we manipulated the feelings of social exclusion and social inclusion. The results showed that individuals feeling social exclusion had a tendency to interpret another’s gaze as directed towards oneself, even when the gaze was directed slightly away. We also investigated whether seeing another person’s direct gaze has “healing power” on feelings of social exclusion. The results, however, did not provide evidence for this.