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Journal Article

Eye-Contact, Distance and Affiliation

Michael Argyle and Janet Dean
Sociometry
Vol. 28, No. 3 (Sep., 1965), pp. 289-304
DOI: 10.2307/2786027
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2786027
Page Count: 16
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Eye-Contact, Distance and Affiliation
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Abstract

Previous evidence suggests that eye-contact serves a number of different functions in two-person encounters, of which one of the most important is gathering feed-back on the other person's reactions. It is further postulated that eye-contact is linked to affiliate motivation, and that approach and avoidance forces produce an equilibrium level of physical proximity, eye contact and other aspects of intimacy. If one of these is disturbed, compensatory changes may occur along the other dimensions. Experiments are reported which suggest that people move towards an equilibrium distance, and adopt a particular level of eye-contact. As predicted, there was less eye contact and glances were shorter, the closer two subjects were placed together (where one member of each pair was a confederate who gazed continuously at the other). The effect was greatest for opposite-sex pairs. In another experiment it was found that subjects would stand closer to a second person when his eyes were shut, as predicted by the theory.

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