September 2015
Volume 15, Issue 12
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2015
How do we make social decisions? Gaze strategies used to predict and optimize social information during conversation.
Author Affiliations
  • Nida Latif
    Department of Psychology, Queen's University
  • Mashal Haque
    Department of Psychology, Queen's University
  • Monica Castelhano
    Department of Psychology, Queen's University
  • Kevin. Munhall
    Department of Psychology, Queen's University Department of Otolaryngology, Queen's University
Journal of Vision September 2015, Vol.15, 1225. doi:
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      Nida Latif, Mashal Haque, Monica Castelhano, Kevin. Munhall; How do we make social decisions? Gaze strategies used to predict and optimize social information during conversation.. Journal of Vision 2015;15(12):1225.

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

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Our ability to make quick social decisions during everyday interactions is vital to effective communication. However, in social situations, we have access to an abundance of information and the cognitive challenge to rapidly select optimal strategies to gather information necessary for the social decision-making process. In this study, we investigated how modifying information availability influences observers’ decisions and the gaze strategies selected to make affiliation judgment (friends vs. strangers) for silent videos of two interacting individuals. We demonstrated that eliminating information (full-body vs. head-only cues) resulted in a reduced ability to distinguish friends from strangers and the use of different eye-movement strategies to perform the same social task. Observers made more fixations towards the talkers’ eyes than other locations in both conditions. However, when information was restricted to a head-only view, participants switched gaze between eyes and mouth more frequently than with full information. Further, availability of full-body cues resulted in observers switching gaze between talkers more frequently to discriminate friends from strangers. When examining how gaze strategy predicts overall accuracy of a social decision given full-body information, we demonstrated that individuals who fixated more on the mouth were likely to be more accurate in affiliation discrimination. We suggest that gaze contributes to social decisions during conversation because we are able to predict the conversational structure of a conversation. For example, we demonstrated that observers are able to predict the point of a turn exchange between talkers by fixating on the talker who is about to speak up to 250 ms prior to them speaking. These results demonstrate that observers select gaze strategies to optimize all available information and that greater optimization predicts increased accuracy of our decisions. We further conclude that human social abilities rely on versatile decision-making and prediction strategies to handle the complexity of our social world.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2015


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