Why are there people who do not look into your eyes?

Avoiding eye contact during communication can have multiple explanations. We put a few together and reflect on them.

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist Elena Sanz on November 27, 2021.

Last update: November 27, 2021

When communicating with someone, what we say is as important as what we do with our gestures. Our hands, facial expressions and movements make up up to 65% of the communication process. Despite this, you have surely come across people who do not look into your eyes when they speak. What is this about?

Today we will try to explain it to you, and we will do it based on 5 scientific reasons why there are people who do not look into your eyes. Of course we have avoided the guesswork, such as that he is in love with you or feels remorse for something he did. If it is a frequent attitude, it is very likely that some condition is causing you to not be able to establish eye contact.

Reasons why people don’t make eye contact when speaking

Before presenting the causes of why people do not look into your eyes when speaking, we must warn you something: not in all cases there will be a condition that explains this attitude. There are people who just don’t make eye contact out of preference, and even because it interrupts the process of recreating a speech.

For example, an article published in Cognition in 2016 found that eye contact can disrupt some cognitive processes during conversation. Some may have this more sensitive mechanism, so they will prefer to look at the ground, their arms or into the void to be able to concentrate on what they say and what they hear.

Apart from this, there are dozens of conditions that explain why people do not look into the eyes. We have gathered 5 of the most important and we explain what is hidden behind it.

1. Social anxiety disorder

It is possible to identify a person with social phobia by talking to them. What he does with his gaze is also something very characteristic.

Social anxiety disorder, also known as social phobia, is described as the irrational fear that occurs in a person in a social context. Speaking in public, sharing space with many people and dealing with strangers, for example, becomes an unbearable situation.

According to the researchers, up to 6.5% of the population suffers from social phobia, so it is a very common disorder. It goes beyond shyness, as it manifests itself chronically. The affected person’s entire life is turned upside down, so that their work, friendships, studies and leisure time are compromised.

This disorder develops differently in people, although avoiding eye contact is one of the classic symptoms. Let’s look at other signs of social phobia:

  • Rigid body posture when speaking.
  • Speak in a very low voice.
  • Sweating, shaking, and redness
  • Tachycardia.
  • Scary attitude (especially to strangers).
  • Uncontrollable need to avoid places where there are many people.

These are just some of the symptoms of this disorder, so it is not something that can go unnoticed. So much so that people can miss their jobs, abandon their studies and completely isolate themselves from society due to its consequences.

2. Asperger’s syndrome

Asperger syndrome is one of the conditions that make up autism spectrum disorder. Generally speaking, the syndrome affects the ability to socialize and communicate with others. Studies indicate that up to 87% of patients with this syndrome avoid eye contact.

They consider it unnecessary, as well as annoying and forced. Other aspects of communication are affected, such as facial expressions, body posture and the use of hands to accompany the speech. Your communication can also appear robotic, standardized, and even encrypted.

3. Shyness

In tune with social phobia we find shyness. Not every shy person suffers from social phobia, it is something that must be taken into account beforehand. However, they do share some traits that develop to a lesser degree. It is not a single or general attitude, since it manifests itself differently in each person.

This is why some experts have proposed the following classification: shy-sociable, shy-unsociable, little shy-sociable and little shy-unsociable. A symptom that everyone shares to a greater or lesser extent is gaze deviation, one that can even be null during speech.

Shyness is not in itself a disorder, although it can compromise the person’s social interactions. It can also evolve in episodes of anxiety or depression, so it is recommended to seek professional help to avoid overflowing with emotion.

4. Low self-esteem

Poor or low self-perception can affect the way a person relates to others. This includes simply looking away when talking.

Another possible explanation for why people do not look into the eyes is found in low self-esteem. This is the set of perceptions, feelings and thoughts towards yourself. There are many ways that low self-esteem manifests itself in a person, some of which are felt in the communication process.

For example, speaking in a very low voice, being afraid to express or defend opinions, feeling uncomfortable in large groups and of course avoiding eye contact. Those who suffer from low self-esteem are always afraid of being judged, so they will try to go unnoticed in the best possible way.

5. Attention deficit and hyperactivity

Finally, people who do not look into the eyes are also likely to have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It is a chronic condition that has multiple manifestations, which begin in childhood and can extend into adulthood.

A variety of elements are combined so that these people avoid eye contact. For example, they have difficulty multitasking, are often easily distracted, some activities cause them restlessness, and they are unable to carry out orders or commands.

Of course, many other conditions can explain why people avoid eye contact during communication, although these are the main ones. Fortunately, all of these can be treated; so that to a greater or lesser extent normative social relations can be established.

Take into account what we told you at the beginning: sometimes there is no objective reason for this behavior. Some prefer to focus on their ideas and thoughts when speaking, so as not to lose track of what they are saying. This can lead them to put away gestural language, such as making eye contact.

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