Affective evaluations of objects are influenced by observed gaze direction and emotional expression

Cognition 104 (3):644-653 (2007)
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Abstract

Gaze direction signals another person’s focus of interest. Facial expressions convey information about their mental state. Appropriate responses to these signals should reflect their combined influence, yet current evidence suggests that gaze-cueing effects for objects near an observed face are not modulated by its emotional expression. Here, we extend the investigation of perceived gaze direction and emotional expression by considering their combined influence on affective judgments. While traditional response-time measures revealed equal gaze-cueing effects for happy and disgust faces, affective evaluations critically depended on the combined product of gaze and emotion. Target objects looked at with a happy expression were liked more than objects looked at with a disgust expression. Objects not looked at were rated equally for both expressions. Our results demonstrate that facial expression does modulate the way that observers utilize gaze cues: Objects attended by others are evaluated according to the valence of their facial expression. C 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved

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