Reading Eye Contact Quells Online Hostility, it occurred to me that the icon people select to represent themselves here could have an effect. While we can't have true eye contact without real time video, even pictures which simulate it probably elicit more empathy.

Mean comments arise from a lack of eye contact more than from anonymity

Even if the subjects were both unrecognizable (with only their eyes on screen) and anonymous, they rarely made threats if they maintained eye contact.

... seeing a partner's eyes “helps you understand the other person's feelings, the signals that the person is trying to send you,” which fosters empathy and communication.

Compare the emotional impact of these possible icon images. When you look back and forth, don't you feel more comfort looking left?

Even people who prefer anonymity can use icons which have some form of eye contact, as Grinnincat and Steph S do. I suspect that an impression of ubiquitous eye contact in a social network creates a more empathic-feeling impression on a subconscious level.

Non eye contact probably has a similar emotional effect to an avoidant glance or even shielding the eyes.

Tags: empathy, eye contact

Views: 308

Replies to This Discussion

Agreed. I think I like people or even fall in love because of someone's eyes than any other part of the body.For me the eyes always have it.

This is profoundly true.  Although I had "liberal" parents and my dad was an early white member of the N.A.A.C.P., and although I participated in one of their Fort Worth downtown theatre pickets designed to get them out of the balconies, I had trouble looking African-Americans in the eye for the first few months at U.C.L.A.  Then one night I went to a party where everyone was smoking dope and I was only drinking.  I said that my parents had told me that the moment I took a hit I would want to shoot heroin.  Just as I finished explaining this, the swinging kitchen door opened and in walked Lew Alcindor.  He looked sternly at me and said, "You talk too much."  I blubbered and, looking him right square in the eyes, replied, "Yes, sir."  I meant it, too.  He was two heads higher than me and was the hottest star in sports in L.A. He hadn't yet changed his name to Kareem Abdul Jabbar, but looking in his eyes convinced me he could call himself anything he wished and there wasn't a damn thing I could do about it.  I've had no trouble looking black men in the eyes ever since.  Interesting initiation into a brotherhood of man.

Right Ruth - I remember being told that it's always good to give eye contact and people don't like it when you don't give eye contact and look down.

Well in our culture, it's polite. I think there are some places it's not. Some places a woman isn't supposed to look men in the eye, but f**k that right along with burkas and being silent.

Yeah right Ruth! I won't be silent - I will look them in the eye. : )

Yes, it works like that. I was forbidden eye contact when young (not much difference between muslim and xtian upbringing for girls) , and it was one of the things I had to work at after my escape. It made my position with people very weak until I managed more eye contact; from that moment I was treated better.

I think eye contact indicates you are interested in the person with whom you are communicating.  However, I find that people also become nervous with too much eye contact so I try to strike a balance.

True Lillie - a balance - you don't want to be staring someone down.

That's a good reason to show eyes in avatars. I intentionally kept mine out to maintain some anonymity. I received an odd threatening email in reply to a discussion I posted. The odd thing about it was the thing the emailer complained about was something someone else wrote. Even after I replied back to him explaining that I didn't write what he was complaining mad about he was so angry that the tone continued. He went so far as to search me out on T/A and continued online comments there. A couple of weeks after that he was kicked off both sites so he must have done that to others who filed a complaint. In fact another person who commented on that discussion ended up getting permanently removed from both places too. I stayed away from T/A for awhile and A/N for a long time after that.

I don't think you can be too careful on the Internet especially young kids.  There are crazies out there.

I've encountered some crazies - it's scary sometimes - you have to be very careful!

That's scary Chris G.!  Glad you don't have a problem with that guy anymore!

Hmmm, I wonder what my avatar says about me?  It's our youngest cat Dora, and she's looking up at a toy doing a crazy-eyes thing, lol.

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