There’s a scientific reason for why you don’t like making eye contact with people

As we prep for job interviews, there’s one piece of advice that nearly every person, self-help book, and website can agree on — the importance of making eye contact. Plenty of people find this a major challenge (*raises my hand*) and if you fall into this group, it’s not because you have poor social skills — there’s actually a scientific reason for why we don’t like making eye contact with people.

According to a study published in Cognition, sustained eye contact makes it harder to think clearly — and this is especially applicable in stressful situations like, say, a job interview or a political debate.


A study conducted by researchers at the University of Kyoto placed 26 people in front of computer screens to complete a world puzzle while looking at a photo of a person’s face on the screen.

When the puzzles were easy, the presence of the face didn't pose much of a problem. However, the participants began to struggle when the puzzles were more difficult. This leads researchers to believe that we use the same parts of our brain to formulate words and look someone in the eyes — so it makes perfect sense that we struggle to do both things at once.

So, looking away actually serves a purpose during stressful conversations — it allows us to think more clearly and make stronger, more intelligent points. And let’s be honest — that’s way more important than staring someone straight in the face as we fumble for the right words.