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Eye Contact Increases Feelings of Connection

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As a fitness professional, do you make eye contact with each of your class members? Humans, like other social beings, have an important need to feel they are part of a group—and a recent study conducted at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, found that something as simple as eye contact (as opposed to being ignored) can make people feel more connected.

The study observed the effect of eye contact—or the lack of it—coming from strangers “just walking by.” “Them looking at you or giving you the air gaze—looking through you—seemed to have at least momentary effect,” noted Eric D. Wesselmann, of Purdue University, co-author of the study.

The findings were published in Psychological Science (2012; 23 [2], 166–68).

Shirley Eichenberger-Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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