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Alessandra DiGiacomo, Kaitlin Laidlaw, Alan Kingstone; The effects of potential social interactions and implied social presence on social attention. Journal of Vision 2012;12(9):402. doi: 10.1167/12.9.402.
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We have conducted two studies demonstrating that looking behaviour is modified by (a) the potential for a social interaction, and (b) the implied social presence of another. The way that we attend to socially relevant stimuli has traditionally been studied using rather impoverished paradigms that preclude the opportunity for social interaction. This presents a scenario that fails to mimic what we experience in day-to-day social situations. In a between subjects design, participants wearing eye trackers were told to wait in a room that had either a video of a confederate completing a questionnaire, or a real life confederate completing a questionnaire. People looked significantly more frequently at the video confederate than at the live confederate, suggesting that shifts in social attention that occur as a result of being immersed in a complex real-life environment do not map on to those that occur in more typical experimental settings. A related concept emerged when participants were asked to complete an irrelevant computer task in a room that contained a swimsuit calendar. Participants wearing an eye tracker looked at the calendar far less frequently than those not wearing an eye tracker, which begs the question: is eye tracking data failing to capture what people really look at? Collectively, these data have important theoretical and practical implications. They also raise immediate questions for future investigation. For instance, did the presence of an eye tracker in study 1 contribute to the tendency for participants to look away from the live confederate? Additionally, will the implied social presence of an eye tracker affect the moral behavior of individuals in ways other than looking at sexy calendars? For instance, will people be less prone to cheat?
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2012
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