Social Eye Cue: How Knowledge Of Another Person’s Attention Changes Your Own

Abstract

We are highly tuned to each other’s visual attention. Eye or hand movements of another person can influence the timing of a saccade or a reach of our own. However, it's not clear whether the effect of social cues is due to the appearance of the cue – an eye or hand - or the belief that the cues are connected to another person. In two experiments we investigated this question using a spatial cueing paradigm and measuring the inhibition of return of visual attention. When participants believed that a cue stimulus – a red dot – reflected the attentional focus of another person via an eye tracker, they responded differently to when they believed its location was determined by a computer. Despite previous claims that they are ‘blind’ to such factors, when a cue was imbued with a social context it exerted a stronger influence over low-level visual attention.


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