Europeans And Refugees Stare Into Each Other’s Eyes For 4 Minutes, And Humanize The Ongoing Crisis

Four minutes of staring into a stranger's eyes brings people closer.

In 1997, psychologist Arthur Aron came up with a theory that four minutes of looking into the eyes of another person will bring them closer. (That, along with a series of intimate questions, was part of an experiment that Mandy Len Catron of The New York Times did with an acquaintance to fall in love. Spoiler: they did.) 

Amnesty Poland decided to take that theory and test it out on individuals involved in the large, often complex conversation about the refugee crisis in Europe. Gathering Europeans and refugees together, the organization put one from each group across from the other to hold uninterrupted eye contact for four minutes. 

"The experiment was conducted in Berlin: the city, which — first of all — is a symbol of overcoming the divisions, and secondly, seems to be the centre of the contemporary Europe," the video description reads. "We wanted the movie created on the basis of the experiment to be as symbolic as possible — and to touch upon the general divisions between people."

Many of them started out sharing awkward smiles.

But things quickly took an emotional turn for some.

The video intended to show how our conversations about refugees often reduce the human tragedy to numbers and statistics.

"But this suffering concerns real people, who — just like us — have families, loved ones, friends; their own stories, dreams, goals," the description read. "Only when you sit down opposite a specific person and look into their eyes, you no longer see an anonymous refugee, one of the migrants, and notice the human before you, just like yourself — loving, suffering, dreaming."

Watch the full video here: