COM12: Week 12

Black culture and White culture have diametrically opposed meanings when it comes to eye contact. Studies have shown that in Japanese, African and American black cultures, eye contact is a symbol of rebellion and disrespect and avoiding eye contact is a sign of subordination and submission (Gilliam & Van Den Berg, 1980, p. 84). In white culture, the opposite is true: eye contact communicates “trustworthiness, masculinity, sincerity” (Gilliam et al, 1980, p. 84) and avoidance of eye contact indicates an absence of these qualities.

Gilliam, HVB & Van Den Berg, S 1980, ‘Different Levels of Eye Contact: Effects on Black and White College Students’, Urban Education, vol. 15, no. 1, pp. 83-92.

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