Eye Contact May Not Be Such A Great Way To Persuade

Negotiators, mediators, ombuds, and other conflict resolution professionals might want to take into consideration the following research with respect to eye contact. 
 My research, as has many others, states eye contact is a primary way to build rapport and trust. Read more below to find out when eye contact might not be beneficial.

Published on December 2, 2013 by David DiSalvo/PsychologyToday.com in Neuronarrative

Few popular beliefs are as unshakable as, “If you want to influence someone, always make direct eye contact.” But new research suggests that this bit of sturdy pop lore is hardly gospel—in fact, in many circumstances a direct gaze may result in the exact opposite effect.

Researchers from Harvard, the University of British Columbia and the University of Freiberg used newly developed eye-tracking technology to test the claim during two experiments. In the first, they had study participants watch a speaker on video while tracking their eye movements, and then asked how persuaded they were by the speaker. Researchers found that the more time participants spent looking into the speaker’s eyes, the less persuaded they were by the speaker's argument. The only time looking into the speaker’s eyes correlated with being influenced was when the participants already agreed with the speaker’s opinions.

So the first takeaway is: when a speaker gives an opinion contrary to the audiences’, looking into her or his eyes has the exact opposite of the intended effect.

In a second experiment…

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