Submission Date


Document Type

Paper- Restricted to Campus Access




Joel Bish

Committee Member

Lauren Makuch

Committee Member

Brent Mattingly

Department Chair

Kneia DaCosta

Project Description

The ability to maintain eye contact while speaking is a difficult skill for many people to master. Because of the importance of nonverbal communication skills in everyday life, it is prudent to examine the reasons for this difficulty. This study’s hypothesis is that the more cognitive effort a person undergoes while speaking (in other words, how much a person has to think about what they are trying to say), the harder it will be for them to maintain eye contact. This study makes use of eye-tracking technology to accurately measure where the participants’ eyes are looking on a computer screen. Participants are asked to read and summarize a series of texts of varying difficulty to a face on the computer screen, with the eye-tracker recording where they look while doing so. Specifically, the eye-tracker will be recording data about two regions of the face: the eyes and the T—represented by the eyes, nose, and mouth. The study found an inverse correlation between difficulty of the reading assignment and eye contact as well as a relationship between self-reported intellect and eye contact.