Research shows that humans spontaneously follow another individual’s gaze. However, little remains known on how they respond when multiple gaze cues diverge across members of a social group. To address this question, we presented participants with displays depicting three (Experiment 1) or five (Experiment 2) agents showing diverging social cues. In a three-person group, one individual looking at the target (33% of the group) was sufficient to elicit gaze-facilitated target responses. With a five-person group, however, three individuals looking at the target (60% of the group) were necessary to produce the same effect. Gaze following in small groups therefore appears to be based on a quorum-like principle, whereby the critical level of social information needed for gaze following is determined by a proportion of consistent social cues scaled as a function of group size. As group size grows, greater agreement is needed to evoke joint attention.
- gaze cuing
- joint attention
- small groups
- social influence
- socially acquired information