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Welcome dear participants. In this module, we will discuss Oculesics or different aspects
related with the language of eyes. Eyes are the most expressive part of our body.
(Refer Slide Time: 00:39)
Oculesics refers to the study of the use of eyes in our communication. Eyes have often
been the focus of our literary interpretation of emotions also. They have been termed as a
windows to our souls. There are various idioms in every language which are related with
the eyes; for example, making eyes, eagle eyes, shifty eyes etcetera.
Eyes communicate and sometimes you would find that the communication which is done
through eyes is the most authentic one. Our communication through eyes goes beyond
the primary function of receiving and transmitting visual stimuli to the brain. Sometimes
you would find that we try to pass on a particular emotion through our smiles etcetera,
but eyes communicate the truth of the emotions.
(Refer Slide Time: 01:37)
Oculesics help us to understand what is the level of comprehension of a particular topic.
In any interaction what is the level of our empathy which we have towards the content
which is being passed on. Eyes also help us to get the immediate feedback on the basis of
whatever we are saying. They also help us to understand whether a communication is to
be started or when it is the time to end our communication.
At the same time we find that eyes communicate is certain sense of trustworthiness. A
positive eye contact is related with credibility honesty trustworthiness and it also shows a
certain level of interest. Although eye contact and facial expressions are often linked
together we have found that eyes can also communicate message which is independent of
any other facial expression.
(Refer Slide Time: 02:37)
As we have discussed in the context of proxemics also, the significance of cultural
interpretation of our gaze and eye contact is also important. For example, up till very
recently in Japan listeners are taught to focus on the neck of the speaker and avoid a
direct eye contact because they wanted to pay respect to the speaker. The same was
followed in conventional Chinese culture also in Indonesia in countries of the Middle
Where is in the US and in northern Europe, listeners are encouraged to look directly into
the eyes of the speaker because this direct eye contact is considered to be a sign of
confidence and openness. If the interpretations and nature are not consistent amongst
different cultures, we find that the differences of religions and differences with socio
economic background are also important. However, it has also been same in world
politics also that MS interpretation of oculesics can lead to interesting confusions and I
would recall something which belongs to the decade of 1970s.
It was perhaps around this time that the US economy was trying to reach the Chinese
people and China also was eager to shut this image of being a country behind in iron
curtain. It so, happened that a high powered American delegation which consisted of
their senators and business leaders was sent to China to finalize certain business deals.
However, after about two days of a spending in Beijing, American delegation give the
feedback that they do not find the Chinese to be trust for the people.
It went against the policies of both countries. So, immediately the US President send his
communication consultant to China in order to find out the reason behind it. The
consultant found out that it is because of the lack of eye contact that the American
delegation has reached this conclusion. Chinese did not maintained a direct eye to eye
contact because they want it to pay certain respect to the American delegation. And when
the American delegates found that the Chinese are not looking at them, they simply felt
that they are trying to hide something and therefore, they did not have any trust in them.
There are certain dominant interpretations in every culture also; however, most of the
times when I would be talking about the interpretations of our eye contact, I would refer
to the dominant interpretations which we have in our country right now. From the
perspective of in Indian who has been taught in a western pattern of a schooling and is
also working in an organization, where a Western oriented culture is dominant we find
that the interpretations of eye contact would be talked about in this context. This is by far
not the only interpretation, this is also not the universally accepted interpretation, but this
is the point of reference which I wanted to clarify at this point.
(Refer Slide Time: 06:17)
There is a very interesting phrase which we come across that we should listen through
eyes. Because if we are listening to a person with our eyes ever did the other person feels
that we are not interested either in the person or the contact. So, we can understand that
our direct eye contact signals our attitudes and thoughts. It also regulates conversation by
providing feedback etcetera and at the same time it also gives cues of dominance and
power relationship. When we meet a person for the first time then we quickly glance at a
person and on the basis of what we see, we make an immediate judgment on the basis of
At the same time once the dialogue begins, we find that most on these cues and signals
are either reinforced or negated by our eye contact. Because it is through our mutual eye
contact and the way we manage our gaze that, we can indicate our awareness our
willingness to participate in any discussion etcetera and at the same time it also signifies
a particular sign of respect. Talking to a person with in avoidance of eye contact passes
on negative connotations.
(Refer Slide Time: 07:43)
This video is a very interesting illustration of the significance of eye contact.
Very good man very good man, but is it all genuine.
(Refer Slide Time: 07:53)
We spoke to the body language expert Tonya Reiman. Neither one of them really makes
eye contact. So, you will notice that Trump is looking down and Obama is looking down.
So, they give that mutual respect of a handshake by they do not give that mutual respect
of the eye contact and the eye contact is way more important than the hand.
Here we find that with the help of their language as well as with the help of the
handshake these two political giants are trying to pass on a sense of mutual respect, but it
is the absence of eye contact which gives us the truth of the pitch; however, it is the
absence of the eye contact which is noticeable.
(Refer Slide Time: 08:35)
Eye contact is gaze which is directed towards another person and gaze is directly looking
at any person object direction etcetera. Whenever we talk to people either in a dyadic
situation or in a small group situation, we find that simultaneous and immediate eye
contact is normally there.
When two people are talking in a casual manner eye contact occurs about 61% of the
time about half of which is mutual eye contact and people make eye contact 75% of the
time while they are listening and 41% of the time while speaking and that is why in one
of the previous slides we have talked about, that we should be able to listen through our
eyes and not only through our ears, but the length of the gaze also varies.
We will look at what are the different types of gazes, but in the context which we have
decided upon for how many seconds we can safely look into the eyes of the other person
without changing it into an intimidating gaze. Researches tell us that a normal healthy
and positive confident gaze should not be more than 2 or 3 seconds. Let us say that there
and internal body clock which we have developed on the basis of our cultural
conditioning and professional awareness which alerts us to the limit when we try to cross
So, when we look at different types of case we have to look at the situation where there
is an absolute absence of eye contact again which is shifty looking here and there then
the gaze which is considered to be a normal eye contact and the normal eye contact is
also different in different context. For example, we have to differentiate between the
normal gaze or normal eye contact at the workplace in social situations and in intimate
(Refer Slide Time: 10:43)
Let’s look at the definitions and connotations of normal work place or business gaze. As
you can make out by looking at the picture on the right hand side corner that the gaze is
focused on the forehead and eyes. The impression which we want to pass on is that of
mutual interest and a professional intensity and at the same time we want to avoid any
offensive connotations. This gaze is immediate. The eye contact begins as soon as we
interact with another person and therefore, you would find that in business transactions
in professional situations, the gaze has a certain importance because our willingness as
well as our honesty and trustworthiness and credibility would be partially decided on the
basis of our eye contact. So, the business case should never go beneath the nose and it
should be focused on the forehead and eyes.
(Refer Slide Time: 11:55)
The second type of a gaze is the social and the friendly gaze, it is also a nonthreatening
gaze, but it is slightly more released in comparison to the business gaze. It is also brief it
takes into consideration the eye and the mouth normally very occasionally and very
briefly it can have a look towards the neck side also. So, this is a gaze which we reserve
for those people with whom we are friendly, this is a gaze with which we socialize. So,
here you what find that the focuses on the eyes and the mouth because this is a time of
social interaction and talks.
(Refer Slide Time: 12:33)
The intimate gaze is intimate and this type of a gaze which takes the other person
incomplete visual is crucial to our experiences of intimacy. It is also an invitation to
communicate, it shows attraction if one over does it, it can also be an intimidating gaze.
This is also the gaze which is often abused by people who want to develop a particular
type of a power play, it is also a way of keeping the attention of somebody. So, there is a
very thin line which exist between intimidation and attraction and we have to understand
that the connotations of the intimacy are passed on only in non professional situations.
(Refer Slide Time: 13:21)
If you look at the direction of the gaze in right handed people, we can try to make out in
which direction they want to think. And this understanding is very helpful particularly
when we have to make presentations or when we have to talk to people in a small group
or we want to persuade somebody to look at things from our perspective. If the case goes
up for a right handed person it means that, it is a visual thinking for example, I might be
thinking what colour of a car I should purchase or what was the colour of a car I was
travelling two weeks back.
If it is a parallel gaze in a right handed person it means that, it is dominated by the
auditory thinking, I want to recollect the songs which I cherished is a young child. So, I
am trying to recollect certain words and then the gaze moves in this direction. If it is
downward then it is related with kinesitic decisions either I am thinking about certain
feelings or I have to take a decision soon.
It is also of two types, let us look at certain other visuals to find out the significance of
this gaze direction in right handed people. Please note that this direction is valid only for
those people who are right handed.
(Refer Slide Time: 14:53)
In the first photograph we find that it is the visual memory which is dominant and this
can be found on the basis of this particular direction of a gaze, the person is recalling a
picture. In the second which is a parallel gaze it’s a recalling a sound gaze. The third and
the fourth photographs depict the gaze which is downwards. If the gaze is down towards
a right hand side the person might be recalling a feeling. Often you would come across
this type of a gaze in those people who are about to take a decision. It may be a micro
expression, but definitely this gaze is often there just before one is about to reach a
If the gaze direction is towards a left then often we are talking to ourselves, we are
telling ourselves about certain emotion etcetera. This research was taken up for the first
time by Grinder and Bandler. They developed it is a part of their neuro linguistic theories
and this understanding helps us to judge the truthfulness in our interaction with other
people. It can be helpful in learning the motivation level of other people and it can also
help us to understand what is the stage of decision making.
(Refer Slide Time: 16:21)
This particular video is when interesting commentary on the significance of eye contact.
We hold different pieces of information in different parts of our brain and usually when
we are thinking about a particular top of information, our eyes will go in one particular
direction. Ask most people about a memory that they can visually recall in their brain
you know may be a childhood memory when they were playing in the park with friends.
(Refer Slide Time: 16:41)
They will look up onto the left as they recall that memory, but if you ask people about
linear things like data statistics ask them to add up numbers, they quite often look up
onto the right.
(Refer Slide Time: 16:51)
People when they are being emotional, upset, the feeling channel is down here.
(Refer Slide Time: 16:57)
Onto the right whereas, we have quite often see people.
(Refer Slide Time: 17:01)
When they are taking to themselves they look down onto the left.
(Refer Slide Time: 17:03)
As they formulate an answer to something there is also horizontal which is your audio
channel. If you are at home late at night 3 O’ clock in the morning and you hear a noise
outside if it is the cats playing around with bins or something that you know the sound of
you quite often look to the side to the left because this is your recall side its a sound you
understand and you know; however, if its a sound you do not understand and you do not
know you look to the right and try and work out what.
(Refer Slide Time: 17:35)
Eyes are enabler when we talk about controlling the attention of the people. They are
related with the learning curve primarily and at the same time they are the most
significant tool we have of controlling the audience. It is said that in the learning curve
83% is dependent on our side, 11% on hearing and 6% on other senses. In presentations
our attention is definitely more if it is an audio video one. We are likely to retain almost
as much as 50% of what a person has talked about.
On the other hand if it is only and audio presentation or discussion then we retain
perhaps about only 10% of the content which has been discussed. At the same time if we
look into the eyes of the people and try to hold a dialogue, then we are also able to hold
their attention. This is also the reason behind a better retention of content in audio video
(Refer Slide Time: 18:43)
The intensity of gaze in eye contacts is also an important aspect. Our intense gaze is
focused, it is of long duration and normally it is not accompanied by casual of friendly
body movements or facial expressions. Normally it is perceived to be hostile or angry or
controlling or threatening or even doubting. So, intensity of gaze has to be understood
coupled with other body linguistic signs to understand the true import of a.
(Refer Slide Time: 19:17)
An attentive gaze is more or less as prolonged as the intense eye contact. However, it
shows interest friendliness and curiosity because it is relatively mild. It is attractive
rather than intense when it is accompanied by other softer facial expressions and a smiles
and with more relaxed body movements.
(Refer Slide Time: 19:39)
Soft and restricted eye contact is less prolonged, it is accompanied by relaxed and very
friendly facial expressions, it is perceived as casual friendly warm etcetera. A distracted
eye contact is one which tends to frequently connect and disconnect and moments of
contact are brief and periods of disconnect are longer. It suggest either preoccupation,
disagreement, aloofness, boredom. Whereas a soft eye contact suggest agreement a
distracted eye contact passes on negative connotations which have to be delved deeper
(Refer Slide Time: 20:19)
In dyadic situations particularly the evidence of eye contact passes on negative
connotations. In a small group situations we may come across an individual who wants
to avoid eye contact and would not allow other people to catch his eyes very frequently.
The shifty eye contact or an avoiding eye contact maybe fleeting or infrequent or
frequent and infrequent alternatively. It reflects negative emotions only either the person
is trying to hide something or is being very nervous or may find the content very boring
or is disgusted with the whole situation etcetera.
Cultural aspects in the evidence of eye contact are also important as we have already
seen in our discussion of the situation which has emerged between the American and the
Chinese delegation. So, in certain cultures we find that the eye contact is deliberately
avoided because we want to pay respect to the speaker because of the social situation or
because of the convention of the land.
(Refer Slide Time: 21:37)
Staring on the other hand is an absolutely different affair; it is never a part of our
professional setup. Looking someone in the eyes for a prolonged period may become
creepy and it is absolutely unprofessional, it can even become threatening and
uncomfortable. Sometimes we would find that a staring can also be a part of deception.
A person may be trying to keep the gaze focused because the person wants to come
across is it truthful and honest one whereas, in fact, the person is a liar or a dishonest
So, in order to pass on this false impact the person can overdo can over gaze and may
result in steering at another person. Sometimes it can also be related with simple
curiosity for example, a child is staring a phenomena for a long duration. However, we
have to look at the cultural differences here in a different mindset and innocent looking
at or a glaring can also be interpreted as improper or offensive. So, awareness of cultural
differences, as far as the interpretation of eye contact is concerned, is important. Positive
eye contact is important in our interaction with other people.
(Refer Slide Time: 22:59)
A positive eye contact suggest a confident person, it also suggest a positive sense of self
worth. People are automatically drawn towards people who have a positive eye contact
because it conveys self assurance and confidence. Open and positive eye contact is
associated with honesty and on the other hand a poor in shifty eye contact is associated
with deceit and dishonesty.
Sometimes we can try to write it off by saying that it is a very common and a
stereotypical association, but this is also the common understanding and people often
make their judgement on the basis of these a stereotypical associations only. For
example, amongst the sales people over find that open eye contact is a must you would
perhaps never like to deal with the sales person who talks to you with awarded eyes. In
trial interviews in the formation of the public opinion etcetera you would find that we
tend to trust a person who has a positive eye contact.
Studies have also shown us that sometimes we may not feel very confident in our heart,
but at the same time we are able to manage a strong eye contact with others. So, people
would perceive this as strong eye contact and on the basis of this they would also
attribute competence confidence and social skills to us even though we might not
actually be possessing it.
(Refer Slide Time: 24:41)
So, this finding that even those people who are not actually confident appear to be
confident to others if they maintain a good and positive eye contact demonstrates that our
conscious efforts to convey qualities usually our successful or whether or not we actually
possess these qualities. A studies tell us that often when people lie that tend to over gaze
engaging in more eye contact then what is perceived to be normal in order to emphasize
the trustworthiness. Intent on appearing honest they tend to over gaze just as the often
overdo avoidance of nervous gestures, that people also associated with dishonesty.
(Refer Slide Time: 25:25)
In this video we can look at the significance of positive body language particularly from
the perspective of eye contact.
Making eye contact with consumers are purchased significantly more than those that do
(Refer Slide Time: 25:43)
80 percent of all patient complaints in hospitals mention a lack of eye contact between
the doctor and the.
This video also tells us about looking at the micro expressions of eyes and how we can
understand whether a person is being honest or not.
(Refer Slide Time: 25:55)
People who are telling the truth tend to be more forth coming with information then liars
who are naturally evasive. Freshman also says to look out for micro expressions which
are some facial cues that appear for only a split second.
(Refer Slide Time: 26:17)
In 2008 study on the topic showed that people who are being deceptive about their
emotions display inconsistent expressions and blink more often than those telling.
(Refer Slide Time: 26:25)
Role of pupils in eye contact is also important. We perhaps never have any control over
our pupils. In given light conditions pupils will either dilate or contract as our attitudes
and as our moods change. When we feel excited our pupils can dilate; the pupils can
dilate up to four times their normal size if we are angry and in a depressed mood we have
certain negativity then our pupils contract to what is known as ‘beady little eyes’ or
In this photograph we can look at the difference between a dilated pupil and a
constructed pupil. The left eye has a dilated pupil and the right eye has a constricted
pupil. Eckhard Hess commented that pupil dilates when we are interested in the person
we are talking to or the object we are looking at.
Several researches have also been conducted and you can also conduct this is small
experiment take a friend pupil size when you are talking to him or her about something
interesting and then change to all subject which is repulsive to them and then you can
find the pupil suddenly contract. So, pupils have a significant voice as far as
understanding of eye contact is concerned.
(Refer Slide Time: 27:53)
In this photograph we can look at two eyes in one there is a constricted pupil. In the other
there is a dilated pupil the constricted pupil suggest a bored with what is happening
around on the other hand a dilated pupil suggest interest as well as attraction in this video
also we can look at certain important aspects which are related with our understanding of
One of the first sign of nervous liar is fidgeting. So, pay close attention. Are they
shuffling the feet or playing with the hair or massing with the watch or clothing, all these
could be potential signs of deceit. Now a liars tend to avoid eye contact, but did you
know the dilated pupils can also be a sign. These are caused by increased tension and
concentration typically experience when some….
So, today we have discussed certain basic understandings of eye contact we will continue
this discussion in our next module too.
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