Gaze direction is a vital communicative channel through which people transmit information to each other. By signaling the locus of social attention, gaze cues convey information about the relative importance of objects, including other people, in the environment. For the most part, this information is communicated via patterns of gaze direction, with gaze shifts signaling changes in the objects of attention. Noting the relevance of gaze cues in social cognition, we speculated that gaze shifts may modulate people's evaluations of others. We investigated this possibility by asking participants to judge the likability (Experiment 1) and physical attractiveness (Experiment 2) of targets displaying gaze shifts indicative of attentional engagement or disengagement with the participants. As expected, person evaluation was moderated by the direction of gaze shifts, but only when the judgment under consideration was relevant to participants. We consider how and when gaze shifts may modulate person perception and its associated behavioral products.
Mason, Malia, E. P. Tatkow, and C. Neil Macrae. "The Look of Love: Gaze Shifts and Person Perception." Psychological Science 16 (2005): 236-39.
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