It’s not just because you’re awkward.
We are constantly told about the importance of eye contact, whether it’s on a date on in an interview, it is important to show that you are interested and listening intently.
But so many of us are crap at it. We find it awkward and uncomfortable and it freaks us out.
Thankfully there is a scientific reason behind it all, and it’s not just that we’re anti-social.
A new study has found a strong link between eye contact and verbal processing.
It turns out that focusing on eye contact can make it a lot harder to focus on your thoughts especially in stressful situations like a meeting with your boss or a political debate.
The study was carried out on 26 people by researchers in the University of Kyoto. The participants were placed in front of computer screens to figure out a puzzle while looking at a photo of a person’s face on the screen. When the puzzles were easy the face didn’t affect the participants. However, the harder the puzzle the harder participants found it to focus on eye contact as well.
Because of this, researchers believe that we use the same parts of our brain to formulate words and look someone in the eyes, which is why we struggle to do both.
So this explains why you can look your friend in the eye without even thinking about it, but you may struggle to look your boss in the eye during a performance evaluation.