When Our Gaze Is a Physical Force - Deepstash

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How we interpret gaze

How we interpret gaze

  • We give gaze physical properties.
  • We create implicit mental programmes in which the visual attention of others is understood as a forceful beam emitted from the viewer’s eye and directed at the object of interest.
  • These mental programmes allow us to use cognitive shortcuts in order to process peoples’ visual attention quickly and efficiently.

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Gazing is an essential form of communication

It can synchronize activities and convey social dynamics without a gesture or spoken word.

It requires a quick interpretation and explanation of the meaning behind another person's gaze, but the trade-off for the speed of that interpretation is the mistaken understanding of gaze as something that can move things in our environment.

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The “extramission” theory of vision

Extramission means “sending out,” and the extramission theory is the belief that vision is a force emitted from the eye. It is an intuitive understanding of vision common among children that persists among many adults.

In contrast, the modern visual theory is called “intromission,” and is based on the notion that vision results from light entering the eyes.

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Believing in the power of gaze

The power of gaze appears in stories and myths throughout the centuries.

  • Medusa turned people to stone with her gaze.
  • The catoblepas and the basilisk, both described by Pliny the Elder, could kill with the single glance.
  • In Shakespeare’s Venus and Adonis, Venus complains of the pain caused by Adonis’ glance.
  • As a cultural reference, we can also mention the Jedi master or Superman.

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Gaze is a powerful element of social interaction

  • It reveals where a person is focusing their attention, and, when directed at us, it can have a strong emotional effect.
  • Gaze can play a role in social organization, with a direct gaze demonstrating social dominance and gaze aversion indicating passivity.
  • Eye contact can elicit alertness and bodily awareness, while indifference or aversion to eye contact can signal emotional or neurological disorders.
  • When we direct our gaze at something or someone, others who notice subconsciously direct their gaze in the same manner. We can take advantage of this tendency to deliberately influence the gaze of others.

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CURATED BY

alanaff

Travel aficionado Writer. Passionate social media geek. Reader.

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