Although people overwhelmingly believe that liars avoid eye contact, meta-analyses of deception literature have shown a non-significant relationship between gaze and deception. In the present experiment we measured eye movements in an innovative way. We coded the extent to which interviewees deliberately made eye contact with the interviewer. Liars take their credibility less for granted than truth tellers. They therefore may have a greater desire to be convincing and hence more inclined to monitor the interviewer to determine whether they seem to be being believed. We therefore hypothesized that liars would give more appearance of deliberately making eye contact than truth tellers (a relationship which opposes the stereotypical belief that liars look away). A total of 338 passengers at an international airport told the truth or lied about their forthcoming trip. As well as the deliberate eye contact variable, we coded the amount of time the interviewees looked away from the interviewer (e.g., gaze aversion), which is typically examined in deception research. Liars displayed more deliberate eye contact than truth tellers, whereas the amount of gaze aversion did not differ between truth tellers and liars.
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Mann, S., Vrij, A., Leal, S. et al. Windows to the Soul? Deliberate Eye Contact as a Cue to Deceit. J Nonverbal Behav 36, 205–215 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10919-012-0132-y
- Eye contact