One’s personality decides whether you would strike a chord with a stranger, says an interesting study.
Those who score low on neuroticism — the personality dimension related to anxiety and self-consciousness — are more likely to open the channel of interaction in response to eye contact, the findings showed.
On the other hand, those who are more anxious and self-conscious may find eye contacts discomforting and may even experience high levels of anxiety when they are the focus of someone’s gaze.
“Our findings indicate that people do not only feel different when they are the centre of attention but that their brain reactions also differ,” said corresponding author Jari Hietanen from the University of Tampere in Finland.
For some, eye contact tunes the brain into a mode that increases the likelihood of initiating an interaction with other people.
“For others, the effect of eye contact may decrease this likelihood,” Hietanen added.
Eye contact plays a crucial role when people initiate interaction with other people.
If people look each other in the eye, they automatically send a signal that their attention is focused on the other person.
However, in some individuals, eye contact may also trigger brain activity associated with avoidance motivation.
In this study, the researchers set out to study what lies underneath these individual psychological differences. Does personality modulate how a person reacts to eye contact? Can this difference be measured by brain activity?
“We conducted an experiment where the participants’ electrical brain activity was recorded while they were looking at another person who was either making eye contact or had her gaze averted to the side,” said researcher Helen Uusberg from the University of Tartu in Estonia.
The results showed that personality does indeed modulate the way one’s brain reacts to attention from another individual.
The study appeared in the journal Neuropsychologia.