Many people hate being under the spotlight, but a new study is saying no one wants to be ignored either. The need to be part of a group or at least feel like you’re connected to somebody is human nature. And just how much it takes for you to feel it is what Eric D. Wesselmann and the rest of his co-authors at Purdue University wanted to find out.


They conducted an experiment at their very own campus; a research assistant was made to make rounds in one of the school’s more populated areas. Said assistant would pick a random person and he or she would either smile at the subject, make eye contact, or simply look past the person as if he or she weren’t there at all. Afterward, the assistant would signal another person to stop the subject and ask, "Within the last minute, how disconnected do you feel from others?"

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Results revealed that people felt more connected when there was eye contact regardless of whether the assistant had smiled at them or not, compared to when the assistant simply looked past them.

It’s a simple experiment and one that mimics everyday life. When you cross the street, for example, people are likely to react pretty much the same way. Some might flash you a smile; others just might make eye contact. Naturally, a good lot might even ignore you. Whatever the case may be, you at least have a better understanding of your own reactions.


Want to improve your connections with others? Here are some ideas:

(Photo by corydalus via Flickr Creative Commons)

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