Eye contact and gaze aversion in an aggressive encounter

  • Ellsworth P
  • Carlsmith J
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Angered and nonangered subjects were allowed to deliver shocks to victims who (a) looked at the aggressor, (b) averted their gaze downward, or (c) varied these behaviors in a random sequence. The random sequence conditions constituted a within-subjects design comparable to the between-subjects design represented by the other four conditions. Angered subjects in the betweensubjects design gave significantly fewer shocks to victims who consistently looked at them than to victims who averted their gaze, while eye contact had no effect on the nonangered subjects. In the within-subjects design, however, subjects gave significantly more shock to the victim when he established eye contact than when he looked away. The results were interpreted in terms of the subjects' efforts to avoid or eliminate the aversive eye contact.

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  • victim eye contact vs gaze aversion in within-S vs between-S design, administration of shock to victim, angered vs nonangered male college students

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  • Phoebe Ellsworth

  • J. Merrill Carlsmith

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