The psychologist and philosopher Dr. Arthur Aron , professor at Stony Brook University (New York), has been studying love, friendship, intimacy and all those elements that reinforce and induce interpersonal closeness for 40 years.

With this aim, Arthur carried out a study in which different people had to hold their gaze in their partner’s eyes for 4 minutes. Previously, all of them had answered 36 questions created especially to deepen the emotional connections.

This week, the team of the Instituto de Asistencia Psicológica Mensalus presents us with this interesting video in which we observe the results of the experiment and verify the enormous power of the gaze.

The Power of a Single Look

First of all, you can view the audiovisual content below:

Why is four minutes so revealing?

Communication is at its best when we use all our senses. This start up does not necessarily have to be simultaneous, the important thing is that we give prominence to each of them at the right time and pay attention to their idiosyncrasies.

In fact, offering exclusivity to a sense, at times, can become a powerful amplifier of interaction. And not only that; it can, in a matter of seconds, go deeper into concepts that go beyond words.

In our daily lives, do we look?

We look but we don’t always contemplate. In fact, we miss doing so and even feel uncomfortable (“you make me nervous”, “why do you look at me and say nothing”, “I find it hard to hold my gaze for so many seconds”, etc.).

The 4 minutes serve the participants of the experiment for just that, to contemplate the person in his fullness and to make a mutual recognition. The result is questions and answers from the silence that find a common thread: complicity.

The dialogue that is established is exciting. One eye says “tell me about yourself” and the other answers “I talk about what I am when I am with you”.

Some define “this is what unites us” while others respond “this is what makes us the couple we are”. Some ask “tell me what you want” and the others answer “keep listening to everything that, until now, we had not taken the time to say to each other”. It seems that the conversations are endless.

How can we strengthen the gaze in communication?

To begin with, integrating it into all contexts, not only into the most intimate spaces. The gaze is, as we pointed out, an act of mutual recognition. Avoiding eye contact is a sign of distance and disconnection (we detach the person in front of our message). If we do not contemplate the other, we diminish the importance of his or her position. That is why it is so important to transmit their worth through looking and being looked at.

The “speaking” look is accompanied by active listening, by full attention. Being present in the here and now implies a look that flows to the sound of words: an attentive but not fixed look.

Many times, we look at each other but we don’t listen, we only hear…

Right. We look, yes, but we’re thinking about aspects outside the conversation. This look is clearly different: it loses consistency, is empty, inexpressive. Looking closely includes an “eye dance” that accompanies the rhythm of the words. In that instant the look is fed by the emotion evoked by the speech and the communication offers and receives, it is not static. This is how it manages to bring the two sides together.

In what other ways can we “bridge the gap”?

Closeness in personal relationships depends of course on various factors, but there are two elements that are especially decisive in communication. We are talking about tone of voice and body language.

Learning to listen to tone and body is something we work on from Psychology and Coaching. For example, in those occasions where the patient expresses incomprehension or manifests feeling misunderstood, we not only analyze the explicit speech, we also read the format, both the one seen and the one heard. It is revealing when, in future conversations, these formats change and the sensations are totally different (“we have said the same thing to each other but this time I have not felt alone”).

Is emotion the protagonist of the approach?

That’s right. It is the feeling that comes from the interaction that, most of the time, sets the course for the next ones. This is why it is so important to read our language and learn to empathize with the language of the other.

What message can we keep today?

Communication is complex and needs to be attended to as it deserves. That said, perhaps we can keep a valuable message that launches the experiment we have shared today:

“In communication, enjoy and feel powerful to look and be looked at.”