Perceiving where another person is looking: The integration of head and body information in estimating another person's gaze

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Abstract

© 2015 Moors, Germeys, Pomianowska and Verfaillie. The process through which an observer allocates his/her attention based on the attention of another person is known as joint attention. To be able to do this, the observer effectively has to compute where the other person is looking. It has been shown that observers integrate information from the head and the eyes to determine the gaze of another person. Most studies have documented that observers show a bias called the overshoot effect when eyes and head are misaligned. That is, when the head is not oriented straight to the observer, perceived gaze direction is sometimes shifted in the direction opposite to the head turn. The present study addresses whether body information is also used as a cue to compute perceived gaze direction. In Experiment 1, we observed a similar overshoot effect in both behavioral and saccadic responses when manipulating body orientation. In Experiment 2, we explored whether the overshoot effect was due to observers assuming that the eyes are oriented further than the head when head and body orientation are misaligned. We removed horizontal eye information by presenting the stimulus from a side view. Head orientation was now manipulated in a vertical direction and the overshoot effect was replicated. In summary, this study shows that body orientation is indeed used as a cue to determine where another person is looking.

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Moors, P., Germeys, F., Pomianowska, I., & Verfaillie, K. (2015). Perceiving where another person is looking: The integration of head and body information in estimating another person’s gaze. Frontiers in Psychology, 6(JUN). https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00909

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