Is your blinking sending the wrong message?

Some studies suggest excessive blinking communicates to the public that a speaker is a liar. In fact, the opposite might be true. How are speakers to interpret that?

Ragan Insider Premium Content
Ragan Insider Content

Is excessive blinking a sure sign that you’re nervous, uncomfortable, maybe even a liar? And do you even know whether you’re guilty of too many blinks?

A post on the Smart Politics website last week analyzed the blinking rates of the Republican candidates, finding that Rick Santorum blinked almost twice as often as anyone else in a recent debate—a whopping 61.4 times per minute. In contrast, Rick Perry blinked the least, just 15.9 times per minute. The analysis concluded that:

“Potential voters are no doubt more at ease with a candidate who looks them straight in the eyes and does not pepper their speech with repetitive non-verbal tics.”

The author’s conclusion is undermined by the fact that Santorum beat Perry in Iowa and New Hampshire. Despite that, his conclusion may still be correct.

But—and there’s a big but here—no matter how people perceive the meaning of excessive blinking, the opposite may actually be true. Liars, aware of the risks of avoiding eye contact, usually maintain eye contact longer than non-liars while they’re bending the truth.

To read the full story, log in.
Become a Ragan Insider member to read this article and all other archived content.
Sign up today

Already a member? Log in here.
Learn more about Ragan Insider.