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Are You Looking at Me? 

baby mean-mugging the camera

Making Contact

Eye contact is a pretty important component of interacting with other people. Scientists tested just how by measuring people's brain activity as they responded to pictures of angry people, and pictures of people who look afraid. And it turns out that eye contact plays an important role when people are evaluating potential threats.

When you notice someone glaring at you, the part of your brain that regulates emotions and detects potential threats is hard at work. On the other hand, when you see someone scowling at something else, let's say a dog, you pay little mind to the event. But the exact opposite is true for fear: When you see a frightened face without making direct eye contact, your brain works harder to figure out if whatever is scaring them may also pose a danger to you, than it would if direct eye contact was made.

Context Clues

Eye contact means different things in different situations.

So what the study suggests is that when you're studying emotions, you have to take eye contact into consideration. It also suggests that in ambiguous situations, your brain has to do more work to process other people's facial expressions in order to be able to evaluate the situation and respond appropriately.

Read More:

"Direction of Another's Gaze Affects How Brain Perceived Emotion" (Scientific American)


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