Windows to the Soul? Deliberate Eye Contact as a Cue to Deceit  Windows to the Soul? Deliberate Eye Contact as a Cue to Deceit.

BY: Alexis Flores

I am someone who people might call “gullible” but I like to call it TRUSTING.

Are you Trusting? Have you ever wondered if the person standing in front of you, telling you a story, is lying or telling the truth? I think even those of us who like to think of our selves as trusting have wondered this once or twice in our lifetime. Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could tell someone was lying to you by their eye contact? Is it fact or a myth that our eyes are the window to our soul? I believe that much energy and emotional distress would be saved if we were able to see someone’s deceit through their   EYES.

In the Article, Windows to the soul? Deliberate Eye Contact as a Cue to Deceit, the experimenter’s take on the long old stereotypical belief that liars avoid eye contact. They go against this common belief and hypothesize that liars deliberately give more eye contact than truth tellers. In order to test their hypothesis they asked 338 passengers at an international air port two questions.

Question 1: Where are you going to fly to today?

Question 2: How would you describe the main purpose of your trip?

The passengers were interviewed by individuals who did not know whether they were telling the truth or lying. The interviewer would be asking the interviewee 16 opened questions that included the two main questions. The interview lasted a total of 5 minutes and  a total of 177 interviewees were asked to tell the truth while answering every question; while 161 were asked to lie about question 2, the purpose of their trip. They were also asked to take a questionnaire to make sure they complied with their lying and truth telling positions. Throughout the interview they would be measuring the interviewees “deliberate eye contact” on a scale from 1-5 where 1 = does not occur at all and 5 = occurs very often. They also took into account the duration of gaze aversion as well as the idea that cultural differences may effect the results they received from gaze aversion.

It is important to note that Deliberate eye contact is where the interviewee clearly makes a point of looking into the eyes of the interviewer. Gaze Aversion is defined as, the percentage of time looking away from the interviewer. The Results from the data were analyzed and the experimenters hypothesis was correct. According to their study liars made more deliberate eye contact than truth tellers. Which goes to prove the long time belief that liars avoid eye contact. There was no difference found, in gaze aversion, between liars and truth tellers. Although, there was a difference in gaze aversion between different ethnic groups.


So, for us TRUSTING people we now have our answer… If some one is looking at you with more deliberate eye contact they are lying to you.

NOT… I hope your not that


According to our text book Nonverbal Communication, even though taken lightly in this study, culture plays a huge role in eye behavior. It is stated that in “some cultures giving direct eye contact to a speaker is perceived as a sign of attentiveness or respect, whereas in other cultures it is perceived as a sign of disrespect. ( Burgoon, Guerro & Floyd,2010) This study was also given under a controlled setting and so the individual was prepared to lie. If you are in a interpersonal setting, there are many eye behaviors that can convey meaning. “Engaging in eye contact with someone, for instance might communicate interest, attraction, or anger, whereas failing to make eye contact may denote submissiveness, respect, or shame.” (Burgoon et al. 2010) There is no absolute way to tell if someone is lying to us. It looks like you just have to trust and hope that the person isn’t being deceitful.

In the End we are still left with the question… Are our eyes the window to our soul?

We may never know.


Photos: Retrieved 10/06/2013 From

Mann,S.,Vrij,A.,Leal,S.,Granhag, P.A.,Warmelink.L,& Forrester.D (2012).Windows to the Soul? Deliberate Eye Contact as a Cue to Deceit. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior,36,205-215.DOI:10.1007/s10919-012-0132-y

Burgoon,J.K., Guerrero,L.K., Floyd,K.(2010).Nonverbal Communication: New York City, New York: Pearson


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