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Eye Contact

My new normal for the past two weeks has been going to the hospital after work to visit with my husband and hopefully get a chance to talk with the "doctor de jour". And because Mark is on the 6th floor, this requires me to ride the elevator.

OK, before you correct me, I guess I could huff up 6 flights of stairs, but I'm not gonna so stop judging me.

What I really want to know is, What's up with people in elevators? As a dedicated human observer, (AKA) nosy Nellie) I am conducting empirical studies on human elevator behavior and my findings are very interesting (at least to me).

Of my 32 elevator trips, here is what I have observed.

  1. When traveling alone on the elevator, I feel no stress or anxiety.

  2. When one other person is on the elevator, we make brief eye contact and maybe even smile and say hi. Other than that, we then look away and concentrate on (our phone, the numbers, the ceiling, the floor).

  3. when there are two other people in the elevator (and they are friends/family) we make eye contact, say hi and ocassionally actually have a brief conversation about something banal.

  4. When there are more than three people on the elevator, they don't even make eye contact. They file in like sheep, turn towards the door and exit when their floor opens up.

  5. Finally when there are more than 5 people on the elevator, I don't know what they do because I get off and wait for the next one,

I have tried to test these observations by adding in an experimental group to the control group. In the experimental group, I intentionally maintain longer eye contact. But as if that act of looking into another's eyes longer (even if I am smiling) is a sign of aggression, the other person quickly makes an adjustment (turn slightly away or pick up their phone and start texting (maybe they are texting the authorities to come get the crazy person watching them).

To satisfy my curiosity, I researched the phenomena of elevator behavior. I found, while reading a psychology journal that elevator expectations can be based on performance anxiety and the fear of what other people think??? Then I read that when mammals (unknown to each other) maintain eye contact it either means they are getting ready to fight or to mate. I am sure either prospect would be concerning with a stranger on the elevator.

But what about the observation that when three people are on an elevator and one is with a friend, that the air is less tense, and conversation can actually occur? It happened several times with me) I theorize that perhaps the "two" feel safe and not as vulnerable when they have a support person with them.

That's it. That's all I got!

I know this post is not particularly earth shattering or deep or even supportive. But I found the whole experiment intriguing. As long as Mark is in the hospital, I plan to continue my observations.

Or at least until security drags me out.

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