Philippe Rochat: "The Gaze of Others."

Lecture by Philippe Rochat, Department of Psychology, Emory University, Atlanta, USA.

Title: The Gaze of Others


We are part of a uniquely self-conscious, shameful, and reputable species. This is the primary “hot” context in which children’s construal of others (social cognition) develops. The question of interest here is how such “hot” context comes into place and why? In particular, why are we, us humans, so prone to shame and guilt? Why and how do we become self-conscious?

Human exacerbated care for reputation and the human struggle for recognition, convey to the gaze of others special evaluative meanings and power. Through the gaze of others, we measure our own worth and gauge our reputation, how people respect, admire, or on the contrary despise us. One contemptuous look can destroy our social stand. We are fearful of such signs as they signify our social alienation and like no other animals, we dread social rejection. An admiring look, on the contrary, boosts our confidence and social wellbeing. This is not trivial because in human affairs, reputation is often all that matters.
But where does it come from?