Why do we see strangers in our eyes as we cross the street?

Why do we see strangers in our eyes as we cross the street?

You are walking down the street, and suddenly, unknowingly, there is that moment when you meet the eyes of a stranger. A transient, almost invisible eye contact usually does not last more than one or two seconds. Why do we do that? Why are we looking Eyes What about the strangers we pass through the street?

From the outset, there is a clear conclusion: if we cross our eyes, the other person is looking into our eyes. But for what purpose? What are we looking for, and what can others search for? Theresa Bass, a psychologist and specialist in non-verbal communication, explains RAC1.cat Some social and psychological systems that lead us to look into the eyes of people we do not know.

Orient and communication

To communicate and navigate

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The expert explains that there are several subjective factors that can explain this “natural and transient interaction”. Of course, in all situations we must consider the importance of vision in a society like ours to “guide us and communicate with others”. Along with physical contact, “look is one of the factors that makes us more human and more social,” says Theresa Bass.

One of the factors that makes us more human and more social is the look. “

Teresa BassPsychologist and Specialist in Non-Verbal Communication

This brief gaze transfer is “associated with an innate, unconscious part” that often acts “like an automatism”, the psychologist explains. Whether it is interest, curiosity or security, the most common explanation is the need to orient ourselves and to know what is and who is around us.

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Julia Johansson

One in five couples meet online

Check if we recognize someone else, whether we like it or not, it may cause some danger, the main motivation for this fleeting eye contact. In addition, experts believe that the need for pandemic socialization may have increased.

Effect of mask


The only thing left for us to see right now are the eyes, so our minds need to use them as a ‘reference’ to form the perfect face.

Third parties

All we can do in many pandemic moments is look into each other’s eyes and the mask limits the way we see and recognize others. Also, as Theresa Bass explains, when the sense of touch and physical contact are greatly diminished, “the other senses sharpen” and “we may become more conscious of meeting the gaze of others.”

How we respond to eye contact

The non-verbal communication specialist recalls that “shape is like another movement” and “eye contact breaks our safety bubble”. That is why, once the eyes meet, there are two basic ways to respond: look quickly or maintain eye contact.

Sight is like another movement “, that eye contact breaks our security bubble”

Teresa BassPsychologist and Specialist in Non-Verbal Communication

Every interaction is a world, but the psychologist confirms that maintaining gaze is a sign of “curiosity, attraction or desire to connect”. Instead, look away “out of fear, frustration, embarrassment or rejection of someone who does not want to come to talk to us.”


Christina Mauritius

A couple eating at a restaurant

In addition, prolonging eye contact in some cases can be “intimidating”, a kind of challenge, and a way to “exercise power without giving up glances”.

What does the form of a person convey to us?

Cross Street Eyes

Cross Street Eyes

Getty Images / Istock Photo

Theresa Bass explains that still in the power of sight, the eyes and all the muscles in the area are closely related to the “most innate emotions”. In addition, these movements and facial responses, which are directly linked to the limbic system, are “readable” by humans.

Keeping the look can be a sign of curiosity, attraction or desire to connect.

Teresa BassPsychologist and Specialist in Non-Verbal Communication

In this sense, some recent social experiments have observed what happens when two strangers look each other in the eye. The Liberators, a group that claims to restore the most basic human relationships, such as eye contact, have organized events around the world.

Another experiment, the audio-visual project ‘Miradas’, asked two strangers to look into each other’s eyes for a moment. The results are more obvious

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