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The Handbook of Conversation Analysis by Tanya Stivers, Jack Sidnell

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15

 Gaze in Conversation

FEDERICO ROSSANO

Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics

Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology

Introduction

Simmel (1969: 358) noted that “the totality of social relations of human beings, their self-assertions and self-abnegation, their intimacies and estrangements, would be changed in unpredictable ways if there occurred no glance of eye to eye.” Seeing others and being seen has a special significance in human interactions, which goes beyond the mere perceptual or communicative functions of the eyes. Most research on how humans use their eyes has focused either on the relationship between eyes and perception (see, for example, Liversedge, Gilchrist & Everling, 2011, for an overview) or on the relationship between eyes and emotions. Two centuries ago Darwin (1872) had already claimed that feelings such as pride, humility, guilt, conceit, slyness, suspicion and others could be detected not just by the facial expression of an individual but simply by their eyes. Most research on facial expressions (e.g. Ekman, 1992, 1993; Ekman & Friesen, 1978; Ekman & Oster, 1979), including recent conversation analytic work (Ruusuvuori & Peräkylä, 2009), has looked at the role that eyes are said to play in the compositionality of facial expressions and considered not only the movements of the eyes, but also all the muscle movements going on around them, including the brows, to accomplish, for example, frowns. Despite the importance of the eyes in displays ...

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