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Body Language And Eye Contact - Explained

Updated on August 8, 2015

Reading body language is something we all do, consciously and unconsciously. Sometimes it can be a lot of fun, I'm sure we could all agree that the art of flirting is an incredibly engaging pastime.  Now, precisely because flirting is such a celebrated and rich field for body language, coupled with the fact that it is something we can all relate to, I'm going to talk about the meaning and role of eye contact in this area. 

By the end of this article, you'll have a firm idea about how body language betrays intention
By the end of this article, you'll have a firm idea about how body language betrays intention

Non-Verbal Body Language

Body language is a form of non-verbal communication, also known as a para-language. It accounts for the majority of any human interaction, and believe it or not, a study at UCLA deemed that non verbal body language cues account for over 93% of all communication in a given conversation.

So, the next time someone gives you an "uneasy" feeling, or you walk away feeling uplifted or interested, pay close attention to what you picked up from his/her body language. The first step to understanding why you have a hunch about someone, or a particular feeling, is to recognize that while you were consciously engaging in verbal communication, another conversation (a far more honest one) was taking place unconsciously beneath the surface.

Doe Eyes - Relaxed eye muscles and enlarged pupils indicate interest
Doe Eyes - Relaxed eye muscles and enlarged pupils indicate interest

Simple Eye Meanings

Softening of the eyes (Doe Eyes) - Can indicate relaxation, trust and sexual desire, especially when accompanied by dilation of the pupils.

Staring - Can mean many different things, and is difficult to pin down without the appropriate context. Here are some potential meanings.

  • Focused Long Eye Contact - Love or aggression.
  • Focused Short Stare - Interest but is unwilling to be rude, or could be shy.
  • Unfocused Long Stare - They aren't actually looking at you, and are either daydreaming or thinking to themselves.
  • Long Stare with little blinking - Usually indicates a high degree of interest.

Squinting - If you are sure they aren't reacting to luminosity, then squinting signifies evaluation. They're figuring something out!

Rapid Blinking - Interest or desire can cause rapid blinking because of excitement. Flashing or fluttering eyelashes has now become a quintessential example of a romantic invitation.

The Pupils - The hard part here is to isolate environmental factors. A bright day will naturally cause our pupils to contract. Nevertheless, dilated pupils are almost universally accepted as a declaration of interest. It is also a signal of romantic desire. Conversely, contraction of the pupils isn't a great sign!

Winking - Is an attempt to tie a knot between two people. It suggests that you share something, usually signifying the person is interested in you. 

Love her or hate her, Palin knows how to work body language to improve her chances at being liked
Love her or hate her, Palin knows how to work body language to improve her chances at being liked

Advanced Body Language and Eye Contact

Its time to teach yourself body language!

It is often said that the eyes are a mirror unto the soul. I can't help but wonder whether whoever decided to spread this particular truism had an advanced knowledge of neuro linguistic programming, because ultimately it is unquestionably true when it comes to body language.

The first thing we're going to cover are what are known as visual accessing cues. Here is an except from an article of mine dealing with detecting lies with Neuro Linguistic Programming. These are the positions the eye darts to and the reflection of what they are thinking:

  • Up and to the Left : Visually Constructed Images. (imagining a scene)
  • Up and to the Right : Visually Remembered Images. (recreating a scene from memory)
  • Left : Auditory Constructed . (creating a tune)
  • Right : Auditory Remembered . (listening to a song)
  • Down and to the Left : Kinesthetic . (a feeling such as pain, a burn)
  • Down and to the Right : Internal Dialogue . (questioning themselves)

When Looking AT someone

A quick-glance reference when looking at someone.
A quick-glance reference when looking at someone.

Employing this knowledge

We're done with the theory, I promise! But it is absolutely worth remembering. Let us picture a scenario and see what we can do with it.

You're sitting at a bar and casually flirting with someone you are interested in, but you are worried that he is prone to exaggeration or flat-out lying in order to aggrandize himself. You can use visual accessing cues to get a better idea of what he is thinking. So, let us assume he is talking about his sporting achievements, the idea is for you to ask a simple question such as "did the crowd cheer when you won?".

Notice his eye movement (sometimes it can be difficult if he has his eyes planted on you -- but all it takes is a flicker) if his answer is preceded by a movement to the upper right of his eye, he is accessing his imagination, and he is probably lying. One word of warning, bear in mind that this process is reversed when dealing with a left-handed person!

Do not use this as a be-all-and-end-all, because results may vary, but it can be a great way for you to get a quick idea. Police officers are generally taught these techniques to help them interrogate, but there is reasons you cannot be incriminated with them!


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    • thooghun profile image

      James D. Preston 5 years ago from Rome, Italy

      Nice catch Grace! :)

    • profile image

      Grace 5 years ago

      You accidentally spelt 'Doe Eyes' as 'Dough Eyes' in the photo caption!

    • profile image

      5 years ago

      Eye Movement very Interessting!!

    • HikeGuy profile image

      Bryce 5 years ago from Northern California Coast

      Thanks for the detailed information. I like that you included NLP and a chart of the eye positions. Clear and helpful.

    • profile image

      jen 6 years ago

      Very helpful

    • profile image

      J Yoder 6 years ago

      I love taking note of body language! I definitely agree with "the eyes are windows to the soul". You can tell so much about a person by taking note of eyes. This is very interesting and helpful information. Thanks for posting.

    • thooghun profile image

      James D. Preston 6 years ago from Rome, Italy

      Thank you for reading!

    • jacqui2011 profile image

      jacqui2011 6 years ago from Leicester, United Kingdom

      Well written and informative hub. Thank you for sharing.

    • funmontrealgirl profile image

      funmontrealgirl 6 years ago from Montreal

      I will use these techniques. Got to try this one. Haha.

    • chspublish profile image

      chspublish 6 years ago from Ireland

      Like the information here - very useful.

    • prasadjain profile image

      Dr.S.P.PADMA PRASAD 6 years ago from Tumkur

      Eloborate article. But one should be careful while flirting . Otherwise....

    • Davorunner profile image

      Davorunner 6 years ago from Australia

      Very interesting. For some reason I picture Tim Roth explaining this as I'm reading! Your diagrams and pictures are perfect, and I did like that you included that results my vary at the end. Earlier you also mentioned environmental factors. There are always exceptions to the rule, and I believe that you showed this little side-note well enough for your hub.

      I love this stuff, and so I'm glad I found your article!

    • kaltopsyd profile image

      kaltopsyd 6 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA

      This is a really interesting article. I definitely have to bookmark it. Thank you for creating this Hub. Rated up!

    • thooghun profile image

      James D. Preston 7 years ago from Rome, Italy

      Mario, yes, good point. I'll get round to fixing it! Thanks for pointing it out, looks like I confused myself!

    • profile image

      MarioPorras 7 years ago

      Really great just one important remark: When you stated the left and right sides you are refering to the viewer !! NOT to the side of the person actually moves their eyes.

    • thooghun profile image

      James D. Preston 7 years ago from Rome, Italy

      Thank you John, yes, you are entirely correct, which is why I added the last paragraph. I have experienced diverse results with different people. Some people seem to follow the pattern religiously, while others are very difficult to read, rendering the entire process futile.

      Thanks for stopping by and adding valuable insight!

    • John B Badd profile image

      John B Badd 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO

      This is a great hub and I enjoyed the first half a lot. I have to warn you that the part about which direction your eyes look can be a guide but it is not a sure fire way to figure something out. I have been aware of this theory for nearly fifteen years and have had much practice examining others and especially myself. I look up and to the left when I am trying to remember something nearly all the time and shift my eyes from left to right the longer I am thinking. It has nothing to do with when I am lying. I am more likely to maintain eye contact when lying which goes against most schools of thought.

    • rusticyeti profile image

      rusticyeti 7 years ago

      Remember to use your intuition too. You can memorize all these body signs that you want, but overdoing it consciously to evaluate people is inhumane!

    • dallas93444 profile image

      Dallas W Thompson 7 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      There has been considerable research in regard to the "quadrant" the eyes dart to while engaged in conversation. Right side is emotional response and the left side is a logical response. Eyes darting above the horizon reflects thought processes involve future events. Eyes darting below the horizon reflects "playing tapes" and reflecting on the past... We most of the time, are aware on a subconscious level the other person's "reference" in terms of their thinking process.. The eyes have it!

    • thooghun profile image

      James D. Preston 7 years ago from Rome, Italy

      Thank you Simone, how do you always find the time to read my articles?! Thanks a lot!

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 7 years ago from San Francisco

      93%! That's a lot!!

      This hub is full of fun information, well written, helpfully illustrated, and clearly explained- I can't wait to more attentively observe all these things today. What fun!

    • thooghun profile image

      James D. Preston 7 years ago from Rome, Italy

      Thank you for your input and for stopping by 2besure ;)

    • 2besure profile image

      Pamela Lipscomb 7 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      This really is very important to learn for life and relationships! Great job on this hub!