BC Jones, JC Main, AC Little & LM DeBruine (2011). Further evidence that facial cues of dominance modulate gaze-cuing in human observers. Swiss Journal of Psychology, 70(4): 193-197.

Many studies have demonstrated a gaze-cuing effect in humans, whereby observers are quicker to respond to targets in locations cued by others’ gaze direction than they are to respond to uncued targets. Although researchers have generally suggested that this gaze-cuing effect is unaffected by facial cues other than gaze direction, recent work has challenged this view; both human and macaque observers demonstrate greater gaze-cuing when viewing conspecifics’ faces that possess physical cues associated with high dominance than when viewing those that possess physical cues associated with low dominance. In the current study, we tested for further evidence of dominance-contingent gaze-cuing in women. We conducted a gaze-cueing experiment in which different individual female faces were used as cues and calculated the strength of the gaze-cuing effect for each face. Composite (i.e., average) faces manufactured from images of women who elicited particularly large gaze-cuing effects were perceived as more dominant than composites manufactured from images of women who elicited particularly small gaze-cuing effects. This result supports (1) the existence of dominance-contingent gaze-cuing in human observers and (2) the proposal that the gaze-cuing system is sensitive to facial cues other than gaze direction.

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