Oculesics is the study of nonverbal communication behavior involving the eyes. The eyes are tools not only for sending communication messages but for receiving them as well. They are, as is frequently said, “the windows to our souls,” portals for gaining knowledge about the world around us and its inhabitants, and also for sharing something of ourselves with those inhabitants. This entry will look at the eyes as communication message receivers as well as senders, reviewing the cultural implications of different patterns of eye contact.

Seeing the World Around Us

Since the time when our ancient simian ancestors stopped living primarily on the ground and started jumping from tree to tree—and hence had to visually measure the distance, say, between a limb and a branch—sight has become ...

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