The next time someone you’re having an intense talk with appears to be aimlessly gazing in another direction, don’t take offence. A new study has found that the person may actually be paying more attention to you than those who appear to be keeping a track of the conversation.
The study was conducted by a team of researchers at the University of Stirling in Scotland led by Gwyneth Doherty-Sneddon.
As a part of the research they trained a group of 25 five-year-olds to look away when they were being asked a question.
The researchers found that instead of there being a lack of concentration, the attentiveness of the volunteers had increased and that they were able to correctly answer mental arithmetic questions at an increased level.
The researchers also found that the difficulty of both looking at a face and thinking about maths at the same time is so extreme that it can cause a physiological response.
Doherty-Sneddon said that the barrage of emotional information that people can decipher while looking at another person’s face is sometimes so difficult to cope with that ends up hampering a person from thinking clearly.
“We are so distracted by the barrage of emotional information transmitted in faces that it stops us from thinking clearly”, Nature magazine quoted her, as saying.
She added that the method of looking away should also be applied in schools for it will help kids concentrate better with their studies, and not put pressure on them.
The study is soon to be published by the British Journal of Developmental Psychology.