Why we are afraid of keeping eye contact

I am wondering if you guys have such experience before: when you are talking with someone, you try your best to look at his or her eyes to show politeness. However, if you keep staring at him or her, it may give both of you a creepy feeling. Here the questions come: Do you ever have trouble in making eye contact in a conversation? What causes that nervous or embarrassed feeling? Before we go further into this topic, I want to firstly show you the following photo of Marina Abramović on her art exhibition ‘The artist is present’. She is an artist aimed for behavioral expression. She sat with strangers and made eye contact with them, sharing one-minute silence.


Talking back about the topic, why it’s hard for some people to make eye contact? There’s an illness called Social Anxiety Disorder, which is also called Social Phobia. The symptoms of social anxiety disorder includes fear of making eye contact or being judged, over-nervousness toward social situations and avoidance of social contact. Actually, this phobia, which is easily to be neglected is affecting people’s daily life negatively. According to a statistics published by Anxiety and depression association of America, about 15 million American adults have social anxiety disorder, which is quite an astonishing result. This severe psychological illness affects our normal life, social contact and even job career. There are three potential factors that cause the social phobia: biological (parents’ heredity), psychological (past shaming experience) and environmental (observe others’ misfortunate experience).


So can social phobia be prevented? Unfortunately, the answer is no. The best way for treatment is to seek for professional help. After reading this article, you still think that you are merely afraid of eye contact?

Picture source:https://www.google.com/search?q=marina+abramović+the+artist+is+present&biw=1362&bih=652&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&sqi=2&ved=0ahUKEwi577SIy5LPAhVDFz4KHS5eD0YQ_AUIBygC#imgrc=OYy4M_tnYSMa-M%3A



4 thoughts on “Why we are afraid of keeping eye contact

  1. Nathan O'brien

    I really like that you brought this yopic into the blog because I think it’s something that most people need to work on. I myself have always had trouble making and keeping eye contact with the people around me. However, after reading some books, watching some TED Talks, and practicing a lot, I believe that I’ve really improved my eye contact. I occasionally even have people tell me how great my eye contact is. Trust me, I used to be an extremely awkward person. I never knew what to do with my eyes! As soon as someone would look at me I would immediately look away. I believe you when you say that 15 million Americans have social anxiety disorder. I really used to suffer a lot from social anxiety but I think I turned that energy around now and I actually look foreward to social situations. I see that you say social anxiety cannot be prevented, and I agree that in some cases it cannot. However, I really do think people can work on their social skills which may include eye contact, posture, and voice inflections. Professional help is definitely something that will provide the best and probably quickest results to social anxiety. I have watched this one TED Talk repeatedly over the years. In the talk, the presenter discusses body language and how it affects your every day life. I HIGHLY recommend that you watch this video. It should be beneficial even to some of the greatest speakers out there. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ks-_Mh1QhMc&list=PL2fE5B_96BGAudx2LSYUMWqePqhQAurZn

  2. Jeffrey R Nelson

    I thought this was a great post because I think that not everyone will admit it, but i’m willing to bet most of the people in this class have felt like they don’t want to make eye contact, or engage in awkward social situations. I personally think I struggle with this problem regularly and ever since middle school I struggled with social interactions in situations outside of what I was comfortable with. I try my best to make myself feel more comfortable being myself around others, but I think its something that has just become so conditioned in our minds to be self conscious of our social interactions. There are many ways to overcome social anxiety (to a certain extent) and there are lots of great resources online that helped me get over my social anxiety when I got to college.

    Couldn’t get the live link to work, I need to figure that out… but here is a link: http://www.helpguide.org/articles/anxiety/social-anxiety-disorder-and-social-phobia.htm

  3. Justine Gaines

    I really enjoyed reading your post. Before I read it, I had no idea why I always got so anxious looking right into someone’s eyes. It’s hard to not look away when all you want to do is get rid of that nervous feeling of being judged. I think that I do have a little social phobia, but nothing too extreme. I am still able to look people in the eye and talk to them, it just makes me a little anxious. I wish that there was a way that this phobia could be treated without professional help. I wonder how they are able to test how bad your social phobia is and how they are able to determine if you do have a social phobia that needs to be treated. I found an article that also called social phobia being always embarrassed.

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