The purpose of this study was to investigate the reactions people experienced when engaged in extended eye contact with a stranger. Artist Marina Abramović and an organization entitled The Liberators International have demonstrated a spectrum of reactions, many emotionally-charged, that have occurred from the opportunity to sit across from and gaze into the eyes of a stranger. Current research on eye contact has been predominantly quantitative, with no available research that qualitatively investigates the scenario in focus. The design of this study involved interviewing 35 people who participated in "The World’s Biggest Eye Contact Experiment," where individuals paired with a partner and gazed into each other's eyes for one minute. The data revealed a significant overlap between negative and positive face, where individuals sought out the experience in order to exceed their comfort zones and to foster connections with other people. Participants reported feeling a sense of vulnerability, which was attributed to civil inattention and the simultaneous threat to and expansion of negative face.
Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)
College of Sciences
Nicholson School of Communication
Orlando (Main) Campus
Length of Campus-only Access
Vaknin, Allie, "Mutual Gaze Among Strangers" (2018). Honors Undergraduate Theses. 318.