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Isabelle Mareschal, Yumiko Otsuka, Colin W. G. Clifford; A generalized tendency toward direct gaze with uncertainty. Journal of Vision 2014;14(12):27. doi: 10.1167/14.12.27.
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Joint gaze behavior plays a crucial role in nonverbal communication and enhances group interactions. We recently reported that under conditions of uncertainty, observers assume that another person's (left/right averted) gaze is directed towards them, a prior for direct gaze. Given that people's gaze can deviate in many directions during social interactions, we developed a versatile method to examine how the influence of the prior for direct gaze varies across a range of gaze directions in both forward facing and rotated heads. We find that observers tend to report another's gaze along all axes as being more direct when uncertainty is introduced by adding noise to the stimulus. We also find that the influence of the prior is stronger in rotated heads than direct (forward) heads. This is consistent with the idea that, when uncertain, humans tend to judge gaze deviations as being directed at them, regardless of head rotation or axis of deviation.
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