How information is exchanged between the cognitive mechanisms responsible for gaze perception and social attention is unclear. These systems could be independent; the “gaze cueing” effect could emerge from the activation of a general-purpose attentional mechanism that is ignorant of the social nature of the gaze cue. Alternatively, orienting to social gaze direction might be directly determined by the operation of cognitive mechanisms specifically dedicated to gaze perception. This second notion is the dominant assumption in the literature, but there is little direct support for this account. Here, we systematically manipulated observers' perception of gaze direction by implementing a gaze adaptation paradigm. Gaze cueing was reduced only in conditions where perception of specific averted gaze stimuli was impaired (Experiment 1). Adaptation to a pointing stimulus failed to impact gaze cueing (Experiment 2). Overall, these data suggest a direct link between the specific operation of gaze perception mechanisms and the consequential orienting of attention.
|Number of pages||11|
|Journal||Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance|
|Publication status||Published - 2011|