September 2015
Volume 15, Issue 12
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2015
Individual differences in preference for mutual gaze duration.
Author Affiliations
  • Charlotte Harrison
    Department of Experimental Psychology, UCL
  • Nicola Binetti
    Department of Experimental Psychology, UCL
  • Antoine Coutrot
  • Isabelle Mareschal
    School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, Queen Mary, University of London
  • Alan Johnston
    Department of Experimental Psychology, UCL
Journal of Vision September 2015, Vol.15, 173. doi:
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      Charlotte Harrison, Nicola Binetti, Antoine Coutrot, Isabelle Mareschal, Alan Johnston; Individual differences in preference for mutual gaze duration.. Journal of Vision 2015;15(12):173.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Gaze is an important component of social interaction. While there is a large amount of research about perception of gaze direction, there has been comparatively little looking at gaze duration. As social interactions are inherently dynamic, understanding how long a person looks is at least as important as where they are looking. The current experiment was a normative study investigating individual differences in preference for mutual gaze duration. An international sample (n > 400) were shown a series of video clips of an actor (chosen at random) gazing directly at them for varying lengths of time. Participants then had to classify the amount of eye contact occurring during the clips as being either too long or too short to be “comfortable”. Demographic information and personality data based on the Big Five Inventory were also gathered. It was found that the average length of preferred gaze duration was normally distributed with a mean of 3.2 seconds (± 1 second). The results showed a significant correlation between higher agreeableness self-ratings and preference for longer mutual gaze duration; this was particularly true for female participants viewing male actors. Further, higher extraversion and openness scores were found to positively correlate with higher variance in clip classification, indicating that participants who score more highly on these measures have a less strict categorisation of what constitutes a comfortable amount of mutual gaze duration. Differences between nationality and response variance were also found. The results suggest that while on average preference for length of mutual gaze is stable, individual preference in duration is influenced by multiple factors such as gender, age and nationality.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2015


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