Far more than anonymity or invisibility, whether or not the subjects had to look into their partner’s eyes predicted how mean they were. When their eyes were hidden, participants were twice as likely to be hostile. Even if the subjects were both unrecognizable (with only their eyes on screen) and anonymous, they rarely made threats if they maintained eye contact. Although no one knows exactly why eye contact is so crucial, lead author and behavioral scientist Noam Lapidot-Lefler, now at the Max Stern Yezreel Valley College in Israel, notes that seeing a partner’s eyes “helps you understand the other person’s feelings, the signals that the person is trying to send you,” which fosters empathy and communication.