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Eye contact: To look, or not to lookScience project video

Abstract

Our eyes have been referred to as the "window to the soul". This is not just an expression; our eyes reveal our emotional state or well being. Our eyes play an important role in communicating. The rolling of eyes, prolonged eye contact (for example, with someone we find attractive), or the avoidance of eye contact, all send a unique message to the other person. In this science project, you will observe the frequency of eye contact, or lack of eye contact in others. You will observe people in two different settings: The first will take place where people are not likely to know each other and the second will be in a setting where people are more likely to be familiar with each other.

Objective

Observe the frequency of eye contact in the subjects, collect data on the amount of eye contact in the two settings, and form a conclusion to determine if the environment/setting affects eye contact.

Scientific Terms

Eye contact

Background

Evolutionary scientists believe that our eyes have evolved to its current form from a time when both cooperation and communication required eye contact. The human eye is different from the eyes of other primates in its appearance. The colored iris lies between the white of the eye and the black pupil. This arrangement of different colors may have given the eye the function of not just enabling human beings to see, but also to be noticed by others.

Eye contact is also governed by culture. In some cultures, direct eye contact is seen as being disrespectful; while in others, eye contact is valued.

In the animal kingdom, particularly for monkeys and apes, direct eye contact is considered a threat.

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