• Look them in the eye (AmnestyInternational Poland)Source: AmnestyInternational Poland
Just four minutes of direct eye contact with another person is enough to build intimacy with them.
SBS Guide

17 Nov 2016 - 4:46 PM  UPDATED 29 Aug 2017 - 5:01 PM
As children, we've all played staring competitions with friends and know the experience of that bond that grows while playing them. It turns out that there is a greater value beyond schoolyard games. There is a theory that just four minutes of uninterrupted eye contact increases intimacy between people - even strangers. You may not be best friends with the person at the end of a four minute gaze into the eyes of another, but you will feel more connected to them. 
"Borders exist between countries, not people" - Draginja Nadażdin, Director of Amnesty International Poland

Based on 1997 research by psychologist Arthur Aron, Amnesty International Pland teamed with ad agency DDB&Tribal to apply the theory to a group of people from different countries. The intention was to apply the theory to the refugee crisis, sitting refugees from Syria and Somalia opposite people from Belgium, Italy, Germany, Poland and the UK. The video was filmed by Amnesty International Poland in Berlin in April 2016.

“We decided to conduct a simple experiment during which refugees and Europeans sat across from each other and looked each other in the eyes. We recorded these very human encounters and the short film speaks for itself. People from different continents who have literally never set eyes on each other before come away feeling an amazing connection,” says Draginja Nadażdin, Director of Amnesty International Poland.

The Director of Amnesty International Poland, Draginja Nadażdin, commented that “It takes a heart of stone to watch this video without shedding a tear. Today, when the world appears rife with division and conflict, it is always worthwhile to look at everything from another person’s perspective. Too often, what gets lost in the numbers and headlines is the suffering of actual people, who, like us, have families, friends, their own stories, dreams and goals. What if we stopped for just a moment and looked at who they really are?”

“Borders exist between countries, not people. And it is imperative that our governments start putting people before borders and their own short-term political gain.”

The video was filmed in Berlin for symbolic reasons, with the city itself representing overcoming division. In May, Amnesty International’s Refugees Welcome Index revealed that 96% of people in Germany were open to refugees crossing the country's borders to live there. 

SBS are casting for a new show based on this same research. If you would like to be involved, or know someone who might be interested, visit the Look me In The Eye website.

More on The Guide:
Why Oscar winner OJ Simpson: Made In America isn't about guilt or innocence
This five-part documentary series goes beyond the Bronco chase and ill-fitting glove
Inside Canada's First Nation reserves and the silent epidemic killing their youth
“They’re just given exactly enough to survive and it’s perfect. It’s a perfect scenario because eventually if you stay in that scenario long enough you start killing yourselves off and then you’re not a problem for the government anymore.”
Five teenage women that helped changed history
From flattening armies to creating electricity with pee, here are five pioneering teenage women from days past and present.
Here’s why indigenous television matters
“For the first time their communities could simply sit back and watch their favourite sport and hear the commentary in their own language – in their own country.”
Beyond The Walls is a scarier, more adult Stranger Things
Beyond the Walls is a clever, moody piece of horror that avoids the usual genre expectations to dish up something refreshingly adult and original.