Whether you’re staring at that hottie at the gym, or simply trying to figure out what’s up with the new girl at work, chances are that as soon as they catch you staring you’re likely to look away pretty quickly.
But when it comes to staring apparently both too long and too short can make you look like a total creep. Yes that’s correct, looking away too quickly will actually make you look like more of a weirdo than simply staring for a few seconds!
In fact a new study has found that the perfect amount of time to stare at a stranger is exactly 3.3 seconds and any longer or shorter will basically make you look like a massive creeper and likely make the person feel very uncomfortable.
In the study, almost 500 people sat close to a screen displaying different clips of actors staring at them. On average, participants reported feeling uncomfortable when the actor stared for longer than 3.3 seconds or less than this amount of time.
According to Nicola Binetti, Ph.D., of University College London, this time-frame is more of a social norm than a physiological response. “People learn and conform to a social standard that establishes how long the mutual gaze should last,” she said.
Binetti says that somewhere along the way humans decided that three seconds is the correct amount of time to stare at somebody and because of this, we are basically programmed to stick to this unspoken rule.
So next time you’re checking somebody out remember to count to three in your head. Even if they do catch you staring at them, chances are they will think you are way more normal than if you were to look away quickly or worse, keeping staring for agessssss.