Preschoolers' perception of other people's looking: Photographs and drawings

James R. Anderson, Martin J. Doherty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Children aged 3-4 years were tested for their ability to decide which of two photographs or drawings of a face depicted the act of fixating on a target object; in each control photograph or drawing the same face and object were present without fixation. Performance was above chance on both stimulus types, but low enough to call into question conclusions from previous research. The same children were also tested on their ability to discriminate between photographs/drawings depicting two faces fixating the same object (joint visual attention) and the same two faces fixating different objects. While discrimination of joint visual attention depicted in drawings was as good as discrimination of fixation in the single-face tasks, the ability to reliably choose between a photograph of two people attending to a common object and a control photograph was significantly poorer. The results suggest that, while young infants and children may be highly sensitive to face-on gaze, even well into the fourth year of life children are unable consistently to interpret (1) direction of non-self-directed gaze in static faces and (2) joint visual attention by others.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)333-343
Number of pages11
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1997

Cite this