Gaze in a real-world social interaction: a dual eye-tracking study

Ross Macdonald, Benjamin Tatler

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People communicate using verbal and non-verbal cues, including gaze cues. Gaze allocation can be influenced by social factors, however most research on gaze cueing has not considered these factors. The presence of social roles was manipulated in a natural, everyday collaborative task whilst eye movements were measured. In pairs, participants worked together to make a cake. Half of the pairs were given roles ("Chef" or "Gatherer") and the other half were not. Across all participants we found, contrary to the results of static image experiments, that participants spent very little time looking at each other, challenging the generalisability of the conclusions from lab-based paradigms. However, participants were more likely than not to look at their partner when receiving an
instruction, highlighting the typical coordination of gaze cues and verbal communication in natural interactions. The mean duration of instances in which the partners looked at each other (partner gaze) was longer in the roles condition, and these participants were quicker to align their gaze with their partners (shared gaze). Additionally, we found some indication that when hearing spoken instructions, listeners in the roles condition looked at the speaker more than listeners in the no roles condition. We conclude that social context can affect our gaze behaviour during a social interaction.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Quarterly journal of experimental psychology
Early online date1 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018


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