According to Psychology Today, eye contact avoidance may indicate guilt, shame, social anxiety, low self-esteem, shyness or deceit. People with autism-related issues often avoid eye contact, as do those suffering from depression or bipolar mood disorders. In some cultures, however, direct eye contact is considered rude, flirtatious or confrontational.

A professor at a Scotland university conducted a question-and-answer study among children. He found that those maintaining eye contact came up with the correct answer less often than those who looked away to consider their reply. He believes that as a socializing mechanism, eye contact detracts from the mental energy that is used to determine and identify a solution to a task.

During infancy, contact between mother and baby establishes an attachment bond that feels safe and secure. As children, however, parents may demand direct eye contact to detect lies, which may threaten the security established earlier. However, as humans develop during adulthood, direct eye contact is a way to connect intimately with potential love interests. When direct eye contact is used to challenge another, it is threatening and frightening. For those who suffer from guilt, shame and other disorders, they may feel that eye contact allows others to see their perceived shortcomings, and they avoid eye contact for fear of rejection.