11/27/2012 03:07 EST

Giving Eye Contact: Study Reveals The Best Way To See A Person's Face


First impressions always make a difference, but the next time you have to shake someone's hand, it may not be necessary to look right into their eyes.

A new study by researchers Miguel Eckstein and Matt Peterson at the University of California, Santa Barbara suggests the best way to look at someone's face is to avoid eye contact ... and check right below a person's eyes.

"For the majority of people, the first place we look at is somewhere in the middle, just below the eyes," said Miguel Eckstein, professor of psychology in the department of psychological and brain sciences in a press release.

The researchers used an eye tracker and over 100 photos to figure out exactly where participants would look first. Turns out, this spot in the middle of the face, right below the eyes, is the best way to recognize who someone is, their gender and their emotional state, the study found.

study ucsb

Green circles are where, on average, each of the participants first looked at when identifying the face. White circle corresponds to the average across all participants.

But that's not the case for everyone. Other studies suggest that when it comes to a male's gaze in particular, it almost always goes right to the breasts, according to The Daily Telegraph.

The study found that 47 per cent of men look at a woman's chest first, followed by the waist and hips, and 20 per cent look at the face.

But it gets complicated depending on the situation in which you find yourself. For job interviews or meeting your in-laws for the first time, direct eye contact might be the way to go, because as Yahoo News states, showing full confidence and attention starts with direct eye contact. However, in some Asian cultures, having direct eye contact with the person of the opposite sex can also be seen as a form of disrespect, according to

Eckstein and researchers also add that their experiment doesn't represent everyone's behaviours, but it is important to understand the human eye's rapid movement.

How important is eye contact for you? Let us know in the comments below:

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