Gaze Behavior to Faces during Dyadic Interaction

Roy S Hessels, Tim H W Cornelissen, Ignace T C Hooge, Chantal Kemner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


A long-standing hypothesis is that humans have a bias for fixating the eye region in the faces of others. Most studies have tested this hypothesis with static images or videos of faces, yet recent studies suggest that the use of such "nonresponsive" stimuli might overlook an influence of social context. The present study addressed whether the bias for fixating the eye region in faces would persist in a situation that allowed for social interaction. In Experiment 1, we demonstrate a setup in which a duo could engage in social interaction while their eye movements were recorded. Here, we show that there is a bias for fixating the eye region of a partner that is physically present. Moreover, we report that the time 1 partner in a duo spends looking at the eyes is a good predictor of how long the other partner looks at the eyes. In Experiment 2, we investigate whether participants attune to the level of eye contact instigated by a partner by having a confederate pose as one of the partners. The confederate was subsequently instructed to either fixate the eyes of the observer or scan the entire face. Gaze behaviour of the confederate did not affect gaze behaviour of the observers. We conclude that there is a bias to fixate the eyes when partners can engage in social interaction. In addition, the amount of time spent looking at the eyes is duodependent, but not easily manipulated by instructing the gaze behaviour of 1 partner.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)226-242
Number of pages17
JournalCanadian Journal of Experimental Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2017


  • Adult
  • Eye Movement Measurements
  • Facial Recognition/physiology
  • Female
  • Fixation, Ocular/physiology
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Social Perception
  • Young Adult
  • mutual gaze
  • face processing
  • face perception
  • Social interaction
  • eye tracking


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