Psychological Principles: Eye Cues
From Learn to be a true Social Engineer
"I do not need a book of quotations to know that the eyes are the windows to the soul." - Max Beerbohm English Parodist
While the eyes are the easiest to see, they are the hardest to interpret. Basic differences in cultural, customs, sex or religion all can change the way people use their eyes during conversation. One of the first important things to do is baseline normal eye contact patterns. Do they look away, stare into your eye or hide their face? If you don’t know what’s normal, how can you denote change? It is important at this stage to not use our own eye contact patterns to judge how someone else may be responding i.e. A person who looks into your eyes may be off put by a person who does not give any eye contact. This is why setting a baseline is vital to success.
Certain cues given by the eyes can help you find areas that may need more investigation. When a person becomes contentious of the speaker, their eye contact raises. “Shifty-eyes” are only really important if they are in a cluster of other signs. Monitoring the length of eye contact can also give you clues on areas that might need to be further investigated. Do they look away or down during a certain topic? That’s the topic for further investigation.
Remember, while you’re watching them, they’re watching you! The speaker wants to be believed so they will use YOUR visual/physical cues as a gauge to see if they are being believed. When evaluating visual cues be very aware of not just your visual cues but also all of your physical posture cues. Especially important is noticing if their eyes look up then close; this is an internal dialogue and usually heralds a change in mind set from the speaker. People wear contact lenses to see better but it also means they won't be hiding cues behind a pair of glasses.
Monitoring pupillary response for changes is also an important baseline for evaluating people. Pupils usually constrict with fear / anger. Surprise and fright can cause dilation of the pupils. Which topics cause pupil changes?
An important area when monitoring visual communication is to watch for verbal incongruence’s. Do their eyes match their words?
Under extreme stress the physical sign know as Sanpaku or 3 whites, where the whites of the eyes can be seen on both sides and underneath the eye is manifested. Examples of this can be seen here.
Many people believe that the eyes will tell you what is going on in the brain. You have probably noticed that people move their eyes in different directions while they speak. It is believed by some that eye movement correlate to what people are thinking.
A system has been developed based on the speaker’s dominant sense and the direction the speaker looks. Here is the “standard” chart that relates dominant sense and directions people look if they are constructing (making it up) or remembered (recalling facts).
You look in the way of your dominant sense. Here is the standard chart of direction and dominant senses.
|Sensory Model||Eyes Look|
|Visual||Up, to sides|
|Kinetics||Down to side|
|VC - Visual Constructed||VR - Visual Remembered|
|AC - Auditory Constructed||V - Visual Constructed/Remembered||AR - Auditory Remembered|
|K - Kinesthetic||Ai - Auditory Digital|
NOTE: This may be different in left-handed people.
Asking, the subject questions and then monitoring where their eyes go, you can tell if they are recalling information or creating information.
Eye Cue Model
The eye cue model is one of the most controversial subjects in NLP. The basic reason for calling it into doubt is that none of 10 different scientific studies proved eye cues work. More importantly, eye cues are still taught as a “truth” finder. NOTE: As practitioners, we have noticed that eye cues are based on a per person role and not locked into a chart. This seems to agree with what FBI profilers have mentioned in conversations.
“Bandler and Grinder explicitly say in Frogs Into Princes that many people reconstruct their memories, and show a 'construct' eye accessing cue even when remembering. In fact, on a biochemical level, all memories are 'constructed'. How 'constructed' a memory has to be to trigger that eye accessing pattern isn't clear. Of course, people don't necessarily access the information you think they're accessing.”
A more balanced approach of monitoring for groups of changes is more revealing. You can calibrate non-verbal responses by asking a series of questions you already know the answer to. Use this as a baseline to use for further evaluation, looking especially for groups of physical changes during a specific topic.
"The Cop Stop Eye Cue Exercise"
Scenario: You are a patrol officer that has just stopped a vehicle for speeding. Ask 3 simple questions that the person should know the answer without much thought. (What’s your name, where do you live, what color is you house). Then ask the real questions and watch for changes from the 3 question baseline. (Have you been drinking? Have your friends been drinking?)
The rate that we blink has been called the “brains tachometer”. Baseline length of a blink is 1/10 of a sec. closed, then open. Noting the changes in blink rate and how long the eyes stay closed during the blink is an important indicator of thought and stress.
The average relaxed blink rate is 10 to 20 blinks per minute (bpm). Talking can increase it to 20 to 25 bpm and the stress of appearing on television increases blink rate to 30 to 50 times a minute. This is attributed to “audience stress". Finally, rates from 50 to above 70 are indicators of a seriously increased stress level. You can also see blink rates drop to near zero when the subject is having an internal conversation. When doing interviews or interrogation this can be a signal of resignation to the accused event.
During former President Nixon’s resignation speech, he appeared calm most of the time. He had burst of blinking above 50 bpm, which were very noticeable. These rapid episodes were dubbed the “Nixon effect” and gave rise to the study of eye blinks during political debates archived here. We have locally archived a sample of Nixon's speech, originally from GettyImages, in which you can see the fast blinking rate here.
- ↑ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sanpaku
- ↑ http://www.social-engineer.org/wiki/archives/EyeMovement/EyeMovement-sanpaku.jpg
- ↑ http://www.social-engineer.org/wiki/archives/EyeMovement/EyeMovement-InterrogationNLP.htm
- ↑ http://www.social-engineer.org/wiki/archives/EyeMovement/EyeMovement-2004ElectionAnalysis.htm
- ↑ http://www.social-engineer.org/wiki/archives/EyeMovement/EyeMovement-Nixon.mov