reports that establishing eye contact for a considerable amount of time is delicate acrobatics. Make it too short and you seem shady, on the other hand if you make it too long, it will seem creepy and awkward. This 'Goldilocks' puzzle even becomes more difficult because of the fact that people have different duration preferences when it comes to locking eye contact. So on a person to person basis, either you are looking at them too long or too short.
Fortunately, there is a new study published in Royal Society Open Science
that had researcher ask around 500 volunteers to watch and observe a video of some actor staring at the viewer, the volunteers can then push some button if their eye contact is getting too long or too short. Eye tracking technology recorded all the pupil activities. The result: average eye contact duration is 3.3 seconds
, with a variance of a 7th of a second. This result gave the impression that it is too short to look at someone on a first date, as remarked by ScienceMag.org
Further, the researchers found out that how people quickly dilate their pupils is a good sign of how long they want to stare. In formula, the longer the preferred eye to eye contact, the quicker their pupils dilate. Without the eye tracking gadgets, it will be hard to tell though as the naked eye cannot detect accurate pupil dilation.
You can check out the video yourself and measure your gaze duration preference.