The Tiny Book of Body Language The Tiny Book of Body Language
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The Body Language Of the Eyes: Extended Eye Blinking, Eye Blocking, Eye Squinting, Eye Flashes, Eye Widening, Looking Askance And Eye Rolling, Stealing Looks and Eyebrow Flash
A childlike response to fearful stimuli is to block the eyes from seeing. Adults will use more subtle forms of eye blocking such as squinting.

A childlike response to fearful stimuli is to block the eyes from seeing. Adults will use more subtle forms of eye blocking such as squinting.

Eye Blink Rate: Studies have linked arousal with increased eye blink rate. When we blink we add moisture to the eye with the help of tears and oil secreted by small glands that line the inner edge of our eyelids. Researchers have theorized that an increased eye blink rate helps us moisten and clean our eyes in preparation for action so we won’t miss a thing. Pronounced eye blinking can happen during sexual arousal and attraction, while under pressure, or any other time we feel particularly excited.

Extended Eye Blinking: The opposite to the high blinker is the extended blinker, and whether by accident or by purpose, the extended blinker puts other’s off by showing disinterest and a smug attitude. A normal blink lasts only about a tenth of a second and at a rate of about six to eight blinks per minute. An extended blink can last from two to three seconds or even longer. Try one right now just as an experiment.

Eye Blocking: A second related nonverbal behavior to the extended blinker is “eye-blocking” which is a term given to eyes that squint, shield or are covered by the hands or other objects. People cover their eyes when they feel threatened or don’t like what they see. The same effect occurs when eyelids are constricted or squinted as they serve to reduce light hitting the eye. This brings objects into tighter focus allowing us to more clearly defend ourselves against an attack. Eye squinting related to tight focus is why we see people with less than perfect vision squinting to read when they are without their glasses.

Flashbulb eyes – it’s how the eyes show excitement.

Flashbulb eyes – it’s how the eyes show excitement.

Eye Squinting: Eye squinting or covering can be related back to a baseline to produce predictive powers. For example, while questioning someone about theft or vandalism, or any other event that brings back images that someone wishes not to recall, note when eyes become constricted. This will tell you which aspects of your recount makes them most uncomfortable.

Eye Flashes: The eye flash is similar to the eyebrow flash in that they both occur very quickly. In the case of the eye flash it lasts on average for only 0.75 seconds but is easily perceived and is quite obvious. The eye flash is a momentary widening of the eyelids during a conversation to reveal the sclera, or whites of the eyes, with no involvement of the eyelids. The eyeflash when given by a speaker, emphasizes specific words being spoken. The eyeflash can serve to change the meaning of a given word or phrase by putting emphasis on one word over another.

Eye Widening: Eye widening is a positive nonverbal cue indicating that someone is observing positive stimuli that bring them joy and happiness. Eye widening is another form of gravity defying behaviour that is ubiquitous in showing positive emotions and joy. When true contentment is present the eyes will lack any tension at all and will appear relaxed. The size of the eyes directly indicates how positive someone is about a topic.

Flashbulb Eyes: Flashbulb eyes are done by dramatically opening the eyes as big and wide as possible. The eyebrows usually arch in unison as well to make the eyes appear even larger. The cue is usually done to indicate surprise and positive emotions such as being excited to see someone, receiving something positive yet surprising such as a promotion at work, or during speech to emphasis an exciting point.

Head titled at 45 degrees coupled with the looking-up-through-the-forehead is a cue cluster of interest.

Head titled at 45 degrees coupled with the looking-up-through-the-forehead is a cue cluster of interest.

Looking Up Through The Forehead: This is done by tilted the head at a forty-five degree angle and looking upwards. The posture is a reflection back into early childhood as children look up at us as seeking our approval or permission. This is a submissive posture and when used by women it comes across as a “come-hither look.” It makes women appear more childlike and evokes protective feelings in men. The posture can be used to gain sympathy from others as well.

Shifty Eyes: Research into lying says that people often attribute shifty or darting eyes to liars, however, as a predictor of a lie it actually falls short. Therefore the stress and nervousness of being put on the spot is enough to cause the eyes to exhibit patterns that seem dishonest. Experienced poker players, wishing to disguise a strong hand, can careful craft misleading “eye tells” fooling other players. For example, wincing at a card that is actually a good card, or using darting eyes when telling the truth, or best yet, producing cues at random, can really confuse opponents. Shifty eyes are an indicator of stress, any stress. It will be up to the body language reader to link the stress to a stimulus in order to create an accurate conclusion.

When the eyes roll they say – I can’t be expected to focus on such a ridiculous statement.

When the eyes roll they say – I can’t be expected to focus on such a ridiculous statement.

Looking Askance And Eye Rolling: Looking askance is done by tilting the head slightly to the side but stopping short of facing head on, where the eyes roll the rest of the way forming a scowl. This face shows disapproval, distrust and suspicion. This cue is commonly associated with a disapproving-mother-type although this is usually in its exaggerated form. Other times the gesture happens quickly as if to say “You didn’t just say that, you better start backpedaling” or “I’ve heard what you said loud and clear, but I’m not buying what you’re selling.” Eye rolling, on the other hand spells disbelief as in “I can’t believe you just said this, you are a fool.”

Stealing Looks: We’ve all done it. We’ve all checked someone out without them being aware. Out of the corner of our eye, we spot a sexy blonde or tall handsome man so our eyes look to the side quickly while our head remains motionless. Without skipping a beat we continue in our conversation because we don’t want to acknowledge our shallow curiousity. What is the hidden meaning behind stealing a look? The answer is simple, it’s context specific! Performed by a married man checking out attractive woman, for example, it can indicate sexual interest under secrecy. In this case, the interest is normally benign; the look is concealed such that he wants no one to know because he does not intend to pursue his interest. In other words, it’s just an idle curiosity. For a woman checking out another woman, it might indicate jealousy or competitiveness as she is seen as a rival. If it occurs in combination with down-turned eyebrows, furrowed brows, or a frown it could mean hostility, suspicion or a critical attitude. With the combination of the lips pressed firmly together it might indicate a suspicious or questioning attitude.

Eyebrow Flash: A quick up movement of the eyebrow is a social greeting. Eibl-Eibesfeldt, a German researcher found that the eyebrow flash is a universally recognized long distance social greeting. The only exception is in Japan where it is considered an overt sexual invitation and therefore inappropriate. For everyone else the eyebrow flash is a sort of nonverbal “Hello” or “Hey there, I know you”. The eyebrow flash happens very briefly and lasts only about one-sixth of a second. It is a quick raising and lowering of the eyebrows. The flash normally happens over a distance of between six to twelve feet by which dialogue can not easily occur, but of which, signals to another party that you have recognized them.

Over a crowded room, the eyebrow flash can express interest and curiosity in someone of the opposite sex and can even make someone believe that you have already met and so create familiarity. That being the case, the eyebrow flash can also be taken as offensive, create anxiety or even hostility, and put people off if no natural attraction is present. The eyebrow flash can also help discover whether or not people recognize you as is the case when it’s not reciprocated!

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