Detecting a "leer" or a "gaze" and making eye-contact.

What is the deal with that, and I don’t want no Hocus-Pocus by Focus sayin’ to me yada yada yada yada bom bom. You’ve “felt” it, while doin’ somthing normal, like shoping for groceries, and in an unthinking-split-second you snap your head and there is somone lookin’ at ya’. It never matters if it is a chick or a kid or a dude or a sumbitch makin’ a right-turn and they are lookin’ at ya.
That shit is like weird.
We have all experienced it, but what is it?

Yada yada yada yada boom boom, out go the lights.


To deep for me, man. Let’s move on over to IMHO, where you can get all the opinions you can handle. Know what I mean?

samclem Moderator, General Questions.

Dude, this question just got kicked over to here off general questions;
I thought probably because of the profanity.

I guess if you have never picked up on something that made you turn your head, suddenly, and make eye-contact with a total stranger, you have no idea.

This effect was debunked around 1900, IIRC.
Here’s a lousy website.

Ah, here we go:

The Psychic Staring Effect: An Artifact of Pseudo Randomization

IMHO, this is one of the more interesting phenomenon of the woo-woo variety. At any rate, the article gives cites and terminology for those wishing to google further.

ETA: As for the ubiquitousness of this phenom: confirmation bias? Van by the corner effect?

You pick it up because you process subtle clues that make you think someone might be staring at you (maybe you caught it out of your peripheral vision, or you’d subconciously noticed that someone had been staring at you a lot). Or if you suddenly get a weird feeling of being stared at for whatever reason, and you look up and see nothing then you’ll dimiss it as no big deal. But if you look up and someone happens to be staring at you at that moment, you’ll remember it as a confirmation of your 6th sense.

I don’t know what the name was or where they did it, but someone did a study of a person who could not look behind them and then had other people in the test stare at them from behind. The test subjects did no better than chance at figuring out when people were staring at them.

My link discusses that.

Another explanation: we look all look around a lot automatically, so it’s not surprising that our eyes would meet another’s from time to time.

I must admit, you have quite a mastery of the English language.

I think you find someone looking at you more than you’d expect by random chance. Reason is because if someone’s looking in your vague direct and you spin your head they’ll then focus on you to see what’s up.

So you snapping your head around causes them to look at you.

A couple of years before he died I was fortunate enough to attend one of the “An Evening with Cary Grant” shows that he was putting on then, where Grant would come out after a montage of clips from his films, sit on a high stool and take questions from the audience. I was sitting several rows back in the balcony and before things got under way the house lights were up, so I was using the binoculars I’d brought with me to check out this lovely woman sitting on the lower level about three rows back from the stage and in the second seat from the aisle. The aisle seat next to her was curiously empty. (I say she was lovely but I couldn’t see anything except her bare shoulders, diamond necklace and the back of her upswept hair).

All of a sudden she turned around and looked over her shoulder and straight up through the tubes of my binoculars and right into my brain. I couldn’t believe it. She didn’t even look around first. She just turned like she knew exactly where I was and looked straight up at me. Damnedest thing I’ve ever seen. (And no, she hadn’t been looking into a mirror or compact or anything. She was just sitting there and suddenly turned to look right up at me.)

Needless to say I started swinging the binoculars around in a foolish and embarrassed attempt to act like I hadn’t been staring at her. She turned back around and about that time this big, hulking sort of guy who had been walking down the aisle sat down into the empty seat next to her, and the show began.

After Grant’s performance and just before he was to be presented with a few gifts of appreciation from the organization putting on evening, he was asked to bring his wife up on stage so everyone could meet her too.

Yep, you guessed. The woman I’d been lusting after was none other than Cary Grant’s young wife, Barbara, who had been sitting there with a guy I presumed to be her date or husband but who was more likely her bodyguard.

I had seen photos of her before and didn’t really find her all that attractive, but in person she was stunning. Beautiful skin. Beautiful smile. Etc.

And she never looked my way again. :frowning:

Too bad–the shows improved a lot after he died. :stuck_out_tongue:

I bet she was clued in my your low wails of longing.

Or, for that matter, maybe her husband (who was on-stage at the time) noticed you looking and gave her a subtle or not so subtle clue that she was being checked out. It may not have even been conscious on his part.

No, Grant hadn’t come on stage yet. The house lights were still up and people were still being seated.

Another strange thing is that when she turned to look at me it was the only time she looked anywhere but at the stage. The remainder of time both before the show and during the show she just sat there calm, dignified and lovely, looking stageward only.

Cary Grant was a real charmer, btw. Had the entire place eating out of his hand. It’s hard to believe the charm and charisma some people have until you’re in the same room with them and experience it firsthand.