When seeing is more than looking: Intentional gaze modulates object desirability

Valeria Manera, Marco R. Elena, Andrew P. Bayliss, Cristina Becchio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)
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Objects in the environment have a perceived value that can be changed through social influence. A subtle way to influence object evaluation is through eye gaze: Objects looked at by others are perceived as more likable than objects that are not looked at. In 3 experiments, we directly tested the hypothesis that this liking effect depends on the processing of the intentional relation between other's eye gaze and the object being looked at. To this end, we used a novel paradigm in which participants observed a face looking left or right behind an opaque barrier. Under all tested conditions, we found a gaze cueing effect on attention: Looked-at objects were categorized faster than looked-away objects. In contrast, observed gaze only led to a boost in affective evaluation for the target object when observers had the impression that the face could see the object behind the barrier, but not when observers had the impression that the face could not see the object. These findings indicate that observers make a sophisticated use of social gaze cues in the affective evaluation of objects: Objects looked at by others are liked more than objects looked away but only when others can see the objects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)824-832
Number of pages9
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2014

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