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Mental states modulate gaze following, but not automatically

Kuhn, G and Vacaityte, I and D'Souza, ADC and Millett, AC and Cole, GG (2018) 'Mental states modulate gaze following, but not automatically.' Cognition, 180. 1 - 9. ISSN 0010-0277

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A number of authors have suggested that the computation of another person’s visual perspective occurs automatically. In the current work we examined whether perspective-taking is indeed automatic or more likely to be due to mechanisms associated with conscious control. Participants viewed everyday scenes in which a single human model looked towards a target object. Importantly, the model’s view of the object was either visible or occluded by a physical barrier (e.g., briefcase). Results showed that when observers were given five seconds to freely view the scenes, eye movements were faster to fixate the object when the model could see it compared to when it was occluded. By contrast, when observers were required to rapidly discriminate a target superimposed upon the same object no such visibility effect occurred. We also employed the barrier procedure together with the most recent method (i.e., the ambiguous number paradigm) to have been employed in assessing the perspective-taking theory. Results showed that the model’s gaze facilitated responses even when this agent could not see the critical stimuli. We argue that although humans do take into account the perspective of other people this does not occur automatically.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Gaze following, Mental states, Social attention, Automaticity, Eye movements
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health > Psychology, Department of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 09 Jul 2018 10:34
Last Modified: 04 Jul 2019 01:00

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