You've probably been told that maintaining eye contact during interviews, presentations, and meetings always sends the right persuasion signals and shows your interest and attentiveness. Although this may hold true half of the time, researchers say that you may want to think twice about catching the eye of someone whom already disagrees with you, as Science Daily reports that doing so may work against you.
Lead researcher Frances Chen from the University of British Columbia and her research team explored how eye contact affects powers of persuasion. In one video experiment, participants were asked to stare at a speaker's eyes while others were instructed to look at his mouth. Those who disagreed with the speaker's opinion found that looking at his eyes only hardened their resolve, while staring at his mouth made them easier to persuade. Meanwhile, participants who already agreed with the speaker's argument felt that staring at his eyes made them welcome his opinion more.
It is important then to know when to use eye contact to your advantage. "It may be helpful to keep in mind that trying to maintain eye contact may backfire if you're trying to convince someone who has a different set of beliefs than you," study co-author Julia Minson concludes.
(Photo by Claire Gillman via Flickr Creative Commons)