How the Eyes Tell Lies: Social Gaze During a Preference Task

Cognitive Science 39 (7):1704-1726 (2015)
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Abstract

Social attention is thought to require detecting the eyes of others and following their gaze. To be effective, observers must also be able to infer the person's thoughts and feelings about what he or she is looking at, but this has only rarely been investigated in laboratory studies. In this study, participants' eye movements were recorded while they chose which of four patterns they preferred. New observers were subsequently able to reliably guess the preference response by watching a replay of the fixations. Moreover, when asked to mislead the person guessing, participants changed their looking behavior and guessing success was reduced. In a second experiment, naïve participants could also guess the preference of the original observers but were unable to identify trials which were lies. These results confirm that people can spontaneously use the gaze of others to infer their judgments, but also that these inferences are open to deception

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