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Troy Steiner, Joe Brandenburg, Reginald Adams, Jr.; The Effects of Facial Dominance and Gender Prototypicality on the Gaze-cuing Effect. Journal of Vision 2016;16(12):1398. doi: 10.1167/16.12.1398.
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© 2017 Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.
Social interaction is dependent upon the appropriate interpretation of others' cues. Gaze cues in particular play an essential part in social learning, cooperation, assessment of threat, and interpreting intentions. By manipulating masculinity and femininity of faces, previous research has shown that the gaze-cueing effect (i.e., the tendency for observers to respond more quickly to targets in locations cued by another's gaze compared to uncued targets) is enhanced by facial dominance cues. More gaze cuing has been reported in macaque monkeys as well, suggesting this effect is evolved and functionally adaptive. Here, we explored this effect further, using differences in appearance of naturally occurring faces. First, we presented highly archetypal faces (i.e., masculine male and feminine female faces, respectively), as rated by independent raters. Against our predictions, observers demonstrated gaze-cuing only to the female faces, not to the male faces. In a subsequent study, in order to control for gender while examining dominance, we focused just on female faces varying in high and low dominance. In this study, again contrary to our hypothesis, observers demonstrated a gaze-cuing effect only to the low dominant faces. Although we selected faces that represented gender archetypes and high/low dominance, post hoc analysis revealed that perceived prototypicality of the faces also varied between our groups in both studies, with feminine females (Study 1) and low dominant females (Study 2) being rated as the most prototypical overall. Thus, participants displayed the gaze-cuing effect to the most gender prototypical faces in both studies. In summation, our findings suggest the role of dominant facial cues in moderating reflexive gaze cuing may be oversimplified and that other socially salient cues, such as prototypically of features, may play a similar role in heightening gaze cuing effects.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2016
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