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Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2010 Jul;36(7):869-82. doi: 10.1177/0146167210370032. Epub 2010 May 26.

Eye gaze as relational evaluation: averted eye gaze leads to feelings of ostracism and relational devaluation.

Author information

1
Purdue University, Psychological Sciences,703 Third Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA. jwirth@psych.purdue.edu

Abstract

Eye gaze is often a signal of interest and, when noticed by others, leads to mutual and directional gaze. However, averting one's eye gaze toward an individual has the potential to convey a strong interpersonal evaluation. The averting of eye gaze is the most frequently used nonverbal cue to indicate the silent treatment, a form of ostracism. The authors argue that eye gaze can signal the relational value felt toward another person. In three studies, participants visualized interacting with an individual displaying averted or direct eye gaze. Compared to receiving direct eye contact, participants receiving averted eye gaze felt ostracized, signaled by thwarted basic need satisfaction, reduced explicit and implicit self-esteem, lowered relational value, and increased temptations to act aggressively toward the interaction partner.

PMID:
20505162
DOI:
10.1177/0146167210370032
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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