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What cultures do not look you in the eye

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SEE VIDEO BY TOPIC: 'Asian Eyes' Are More Common Than You Think

Cultures perceive direct eye contact differently

This study investigated whether eye contact perception differs in people with different cultural backgrounds. Finnish European and Japanese East Asian participants were asked to determine whether Finnish and Japanese neutral faces with various gaze directions were looking at them. Further, participants rated the face stimuli for emotion and other affect-related dimensions. The results indicated that Finnish viewers had a smaller bias toward judging slightly averted gazes as directed at them when judging Finnish rather than Japanese faces, while the bias of Japanese viewers did not differ between faces from their own and other cultural backgrounds.

This may be explained by Westerners experiencing more eye contact in their daily life leading to larger visual experience of gaze perception generally, and to more accurate perception of eye contact with people from their own cultural background particularly. The results also revealed cultural differences in the perception of emotion from neutral faces that could also contribute to the bias in eye contact perception. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Data Availability: All relevant data are within the paper and its Supporting Information files. Funding: This study was supported by the Academy of Finland [grant number to J. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. Competing interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

The eyes have a universal language. It has been proposed that the structure of the human eye evolved under the pressure of the need for coordinated behavior with others [ 3 ]. In contrast to the eyes of other primates, the human eye has a distinctive structure consisting of a white sclera and dark iris. The function of direct gaze and its impact on other social cognitive functions throughout human development have been extensively investigated [ 4 ].

Experimental studies have indicated that a face with a direct gaze rapidly attracts our attention [ 5 ]. Human infants prefer faces with a direct gaze over those with an averted gaze since birth [ 6 ]. Previous studies have also demonstrated that observing the direct gaze of others elicits higher skin conductance responses [ 7 ], enhanced heart rate deceleration responses [ 8 ], greater visual event-related brain potentials [ 9 , 10 ], and greater left-lateralized frontal EEG activity [ 11 ]—a pattern of EEG activity associated with approach motivation—than observing an averted gaze.

Furthermore, it has been shown that a direct gaze enhances various social cognitive functions such as face memory [ 12 ], joint attention [ 13 ], and empathy [ 14 ]. These findings suggest that the detection of a direct gaze has great significance for human social interaction.

The detection of a self-directed gaze is often the starting point for social interaction, and eye contact plays a crucial role in regulating face-to-face interaction. Cultural differences in eye contact perception appear to be a relevant topic for research because of the increase in mobility and social interaction among people of different cultural backgrounds. However, it currently remains unknown whether eye contact perception differs among people with different cultural backgrounds.

These studies have shown that humans can quite accurately discern where a person is looking [ 15 , 16 ]. Consistent with the importance of eye contact in social interaction, other studies have demonstrated that observers can discriminate gaze direction more accurately when the stimulus face is directly looking at them than when the gaze is directed toward other directions [ 17 ].

There are well-motivated reasons for expecting the bias in detecting a self-directed gaze to vary among people of different cultural backgrounds. First, although a direct gaze universally serves important social functions, attention to faces with a direct gaze differs across cultures.

Studies using eye-tracking methodology have demonstrated that East Asians look at the center of a face, while Westerners alternate their focus along a triangle formed by the eyes and mouth when they are required to learn and recognize facial identity [ 22 , 23 ]. However, when recognizing facial expressions Japanese participants attend to the eyes, while Americans focus on the mouth [ 24 , 25 ]. These studies also suggest that the cultural differences in attention to faces with a direct gaze are task dependent.

Second, eye contact behavior differs among cultures. Maintaining eye contact during social interaction is a more important principle for Western Europeans than for East Asians [ 26 ]. While maintaining eye contact is positively evaluated by Western Europeans, it is not the case with people of East Asian cultural backgrounds [ 27 ].

In fact, in Japanese culture, people are taught not to maintain eye contact with others because too much eye contact is often considered disrespectful. Consistent with this, previous studies have demonstrated, for example, that the Japanese show less eye contact than Canadians during face-to-face interaction [ 29 , 30 ]. This may hold particularly true for faces from their own cultural background relative to faces from other cultural background with whom they have less visual experience.

Third, it is possible that cultural differences in discerning information about others emotions might also exert an effect on eye contact perception, even when the face in question does not clearly express any emotion. It has been observed from previous research that the perception of gaze direction is modulated by factors not related to gaze direction. For example, observers are more likely to perceive an averted gaze as direct when the face stimulus expresses a happy or angry emotion than when it shows a neutral expression [ 31 — 34 ].

Another line of research has indicated that observers with high levels of social anxiety tend to perceive averted gazes as direct [ 19 ], especially when such gazes appear on angry faces [ 35 ]. Some studies suggest that the Japanese infer subjective emotions of others to be stronger relative to the Westerners perception. Japanese observers have been shown to perceive subjective emotions on a model displaying facial emotions as more intense than North American observers [ 36 ].

A recent study investigated cultural differences in autonomic responses and evaluative ratings when participants observed direct and averted gazes of same-culture individuals displaying neutral expressions [ 8 ].

They found that Japanese participants rated a face with a direct gaze as angrier, less approachable, and marginally less pleasant than Finnish participants.

Further, faces with a direct gaze were rated as sadder than those with an averted gaze by Japanese but not Finnish participants. However, it remains unknown whether Japanese and Finnish participants read emotions differently in neutral faces from their own and other cultures.

This study investigated the cultural differences in eye contact perception among Finnish European and Japanese East Asian individuals. Finnish and Japanese participants were asked to determine whether the stimulus face was looking at them. People from Western cultures show more eye contact than those from Japan [ 29 , 30 ]. Thus, as Western Europeans have considerable experience processing gazes directed at them in faces from their own cultures, we hypothesized that Finnish participants should be less biased than Japanese participants in considering slightly averted gazes to be directed at them.

Moreover, we predicted that Finnish participants would be less biased in considering slightly averted gazes from Finnish faces to be directed at them than gazes from Japanese faces.

Finally, participants were also asked to complete questionnaires investigating their degree of autistic traits and social phobia. The experiment was conducted in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki. In accordance with Finnish regulations Act on Medical Research and Decree on Medical Research , amended , specific ethics approval was not necessary for this kind of study in Finland.

We also did not obtain specific ethics approval for this research in Japan, but the experimental procedure was approved as a part of another study by the local ethics committee of Kyoto University Graduate School and Faculty of Medicine. Written informed consent was obtained from all participants. Participants in this study included 30 Finnish five males and 30 Japanese six males young adults.

The Finnish and Japanese participants were recruited from the student populations of the University of Tampere in Finland and Kyoto University in Japan, respectively. Face photographs of eight Japanese four females and eight Finnish models four females were taken.

The models sat on a chair and rested their heads against a wall behind them to stabilize their head orientation. A camera was located in front of the models, approximately cm away from their heads. Fixation points were attached on the bar at 5.

During shooting, the models were asked to fixate on each of the markers in turn, alternating in increasing angles from side to side. The models were asked to keep their faces neutral and to change their gaze direction without making any other movement.

These images were changed to grayscale and were cropped in an ellipse Furthermore, we removed the reflections of lighting in the irises from all the images.

Examples of the stimuli are shown in Fig. The photograph sessions for the Finnish and Japanese models were conducted in two laboratories in Tampere and Kyoto, respectively, by the same photographer, the first author S. Although we carefully followed the same procedure in both laboratories, we wanted to confirm that there would be no differences in gaze direction between the Finnish and Japanese faces and that the respective gaze deviations to the left and right would be of the same size.

The distance between the center of the iris and the outer corner of an eye was measured for both eyes in each image. This shows that the degrees of gaze aversion at each gaze angle did not differ with respect to the cultural background of the face and gaze direction. Stimulus presentation and data acquisition were controlled by presentation software Neurobehavioral System running on a Windows computer Microsoft.

The sequence of events for a single stimulus presentation trial is shown in Fig. At each trial, a fixation cross was first presented at the center of the screen for ms. Then, a Finnish or a Japanese face with a direct or averted gaze was presented. After ms, the face disappeared and the response window appeared on the screen.

At each trial, the response window gave instructions on the use of assigned buttons right and left button of a mouse for each response.

The instruction remained on the screen until a response was given. If ms elapsed with no response, the next trial was started. The trials were presented in random order, and the order of the assigned buttons for each response was counterbalanced across the participants.

Participants were allowed to rest between the blocks. To familiarize participants with the task procedure, five practice trials preceded the experimental trials. After the completion of the gaze judgment task, participants evaluated the stimuli Japanese and Finnish faces with direct and averted gaze using the following scales in three separate blocks. Half of the faces both Japanese and Finnish had their gaze averted to the left, while the other half had it averted to the right.

Within each block, a given face remained on the screen while it was being rated along each scale in turn. To avoid any confusion, the scales presented below the stimuli were always named.

The order of the blocks was the same for all participants, and the order of the trials was randomized in each block. There was no time limit for the ratings. A face and the name of the scale remained on the screen until a response was made. For Finnish participants, these two scales were translated into Finnish.

Trials with no response and those with response times shorter than ms after stimulus presentation were excluded from analyses. Following previous studies [ 32 , 33 ], the results were analyzed from data collapsed across the left and right gaze directions.

Significant interactions were followed up with simple effects analyses. When the sphericity assumption was violated, probability values were evaluated with Greenhouse—Geisser adjustments for degrees of freedom.

Predictably, the proportion of looking-at-me responses decreased with increasing gaze angles away from the direct gaze. Overall, the proportion of looking-at-me responses was higher for Japanese than Finnish faces. Looking-at-me responses are indicated as a function of gaze direction for Finnish and Japanese faces of Finnish and Japanese participants. The results for the ratings of subjective pleasantness and arousal are shown in Table 2.

Finnish participants gave faces higher ratings for pleasantness than Japanese participants.

Seeing Eye-to-eye across Cultures

People have romanticized the eyes for centuries, claiming to be able to read the emotions within them — anger, lust, joy. Eye contact is important in everyday interactions with other people, as a face with a direct gaze captures our attention. While researchers have established that people can accurately determine where a person is looking, comparisons between different cultural groups of perceived eye contact had yet to be studied — until this past February, as published in PLoS ONE. Scientists compared two cultural groups — Finnish and Japanese — to see if eye contact perception differed between the two.

Analyzed the data: HU HA. Eye contact has a fundamental role in human social interaction. The special appearance of the human eye i.

View Courses. Face-to-face meetings have a tremendous importance in the global business world. It is during these occasions that important matters are discussed and contracts are signed. Face-to-face encounters can sometimes be difficult to handle, however, especially when meeting people from different cultures where the risks of intercultural misunderstanding can jeopardise business opportunities. One benefit of meeting international counterparts face-to-face is the ability to communicate directly without relying on virtual communication that can result in misunderstandings and confusion.

Eye contact

Eye contact is a method of communication. A quick glance sends a different message than a cold stare, but both are forms of making eye contact. How and when to make eye contact depends entirely on the customs of where you are, who you are with, and the social setting. For example, some cultures consider making direct eye contact aggressive, rude, or a show of disrespect. Other cultures and some religious groups consider eye contact between men and women inappropriate and either as threatening or flirtatious. In many Asian cultures, avoiding eye contact with a member of the opposite sex or a superior is seen as a show of respect. However, in the United States and most of Europe, making eye contact is not only seen as appropriate but is necessary for establishing yourself as a powerful business professional. In business and social settings making the "right" eye contact never involves staring at someone or having a fixed gaze. To make eye contact, look directly into the other persons' eyes for seconds.

Making Eye Contact in Different Cultures - What Are You Saying?

No eBook available Walter de Gruyter Amazon. Read, highlight, and take notes, across web, tablet, and phone. Account Options Sign in. My library Help Advanced Book Search.

Aboriginal People and the Canadian Justice System.

Certainly, there are many non-verbal cues that have completely different meanings in different cultures. One of the most important means of nonverbal communication in any culture is eye contact—or lack thereof. What does eye contact mean in the United States?

Attention to Eye Contact in the West and East: Autonomic Responses and Evaluative Ratings

This much we already know from our everyday experiences. But psychologists and neuroscientists have been studying eye contact for decades and their intriguing findings reveal much more about its power, including what our eyes give away and how eye contact changes what we think about the other person looking back at us. Research shows that gazing eyes command our attention Credit: Getty Images. Not surprisingly, the drama of realising we are the object of another mind is highly distracting.

SEE VIDEO BY TOPIC: Vintage Culture, Constatinne, Felten - Eyes

At Corporate Speech Solutions, we provide training on speaking with confidence and projecting a self-assured, professional air in communication. To this end, we often counsel clients on how to utilize eye contact to achieve a strong, confident image. In American culture, strong eye contact is typically considered a sign of strength and confidence. In the professional world, averting eye contact with someone can be read in several ways. Looking down is often read as insecurity, a subconscious signal that you are uncomfortable in a situation and lack confidence in what you are saying.

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Breaking cultural norms are an unavoidable part of traveling, at least to some degree. Going to foreign places and attempting to adapt to a new way of life while visiting is bound to result in slip-ups and awkward moments. However, a lot of these potentially cringe-worthy situations and the ensuing guilt that often follows can be avoided. Eye contact is an essential form of communication around the world. However, using eye contact or avoiding can mean very different things in different countries, cultures, and religions. In some, the presence of eye contact conveys confidence and instills trust in the interaction.

Is it polite to gaze, or to stare? Which cultures prefer to avoid eye contact? Might not be what you are looking for, but in my Mendeley account I found these.

Eye contact occurs when two animals look at each other's eyes at the same time. Coined in the early to mids, the term came from the West to often define the act as a meaningful and important sign of confidence, respect, and social communication. The study of eye contact is sometimes known as oculesics.

Eye Contact across Cultures

This study investigated whether eye contact perception differs in people with different cultural backgrounds. Finnish European and Japanese East Asian participants were asked to determine whether Finnish and Japanese neutral faces with various gaze directions were looking at them. Further, participants rated the face stimuli for emotion and other affect-related dimensions. The results indicated that Finnish viewers had a smaller bias toward judging slightly averted gazes as directed at them when judging Finnish rather than Japanese faces, while the bias of Japanese viewers did not differ between faces from their own and other cultural backgrounds.

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Comments: 2
  1. Mikakree

    Today I read on this theme much.

  2. JoJolrajas

    It completely agree with told all above.

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