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The duality of gaze: eyes extract and signal social information during sustained cooperative and competitive dyadic gaze.

Jarick M, Kingstone A - Front Psychol (2015)

Bottom Line: However, evolutionary theory holds that humans did not develop a high contrast morphology simply to use the eyes of others as attentional cues; rather they sacrificed camouflage for communication, that is, to signal their thoughts and intentions to others.In a single simple study we show experimentally that the effect of eye contact can be quickly and profoundly altered merely by having participants, who had never met before, play a game in a cooperative or competitive manner.Those who had played the game cooperatively found this terribly difficult to do, repeatedly talking and breaking gaze.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Neurocognition of Attention and Perception Lab, Department of Psychology, MacEwan University , Edmonton, AB, Canada.

ABSTRACT
In contrast to non-human primate eyes, which have a dark sclera surrounding a dark iris, human eyes have a white sclera that surrounds a dark iris. This high contrast morphology allows humans to determine quickly and easily where others are looking and infer what they are attending to. In recent years an enormous body of work has used photos and schematic images of faces to study these aspects of social attention, e.g., the selection of the eyes of others and the shift of attention to where those eyes are directed. However, evolutionary theory holds that humans did not develop a high contrast morphology simply to use the eyes of others as attentional cues; rather they sacrificed camouflage for communication, that is, to signal their thoughts and intentions to others. In the present study we demonstrate the importance of this by taking as our starting point the hypothesis that a cornerstone of non-verbal communication is the eye contact between individuals and the time that it is held. In a single simple study we show experimentally that the effect of eye contact can be quickly and profoundly altered merely by having participants, who had never met before, play a game in a cooperative or competitive manner. After the game participants were asked to make eye contact for a prolonged period of time (10 min). Those who had played the game cooperatively found this terribly difficult to do, repeatedly talking and breaking gaze. In contrast, those who had played the game competitively were able to stare quietly at each other for a sustained period. Collectively these data demonstrate that when looking at the eyes of a real person one both acquires and signals information to the other person. This duality of gaze is critical to non-verbal communication, with the nature of that communication shaped by the relationship between individuals, e.g., cooperative or competitive.

No MeSH data available.


Schematic representation of the experimental room set-up between the puzzle and eye contact phases of the experiment and where participants were situated during the cooperative and competitive contexts.
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Figure 1: Schematic representation of the experimental room set-up between the puzzle and eye contact phases of the experiment and where participants were situated during the cooperative and competitive contexts.

Mentions: All participants were seated at the same table, with cooperative dyads beside one another and competitive dyads at different sides of the table (see Figure 1, for a schematic of the set-up). Thus, all participants in the competitive context could see each the others’ progress, which was designed to add to the competitive nature of the situation. Consistent with the different nature of the games, all the dyads in the cooperative task engaged in conversation with one another while performing the task, typically with conversation about the task—its difficulty, what pieces should go where, etc.,—ongoing throughout the 5-min session. In contrast, it was unusual for the competitive dyads to talk with one another, and they never engaged in any helping cooperative behaviors, such as assisting the other individual with solving a puzzle. These observations provided us with a solid basis for believing that the two tasks had been successful in establishing different types of relationships between the two groups, i.e., cooperative or competitive. And while we do not have eye contact and speech data from the cooperative dyads, a recent paper by Ho et al. (2015) did track the eyes of dyads while they engaged in cooperative games, and they found that eye gaze is used to signal both the end and the beginning of a speaking turn. Specifically, a speaker will end his or her speaking turn with direct gaze at the listener, and the listener will then begin to speak while averting their gaze. Note that these data make the additional important point that both eye contact, and the breaking of eye contact, are important communicative social signals.


The duality of gaze: eyes extract and signal social information during sustained cooperative and competitive dyadic gaze.

Jarick M, Kingstone A - Front Psychol (2015)

Schematic representation of the experimental room set-up between the puzzle and eye contact phases of the experiment and where participants were situated during the cooperative and competitive contexts.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4585076&req=5

Figure 1: Schematic representation of the experimental room set-up between the puzzle and eye contact phases of the experiment and where participants were situated during the cooperative and competitive contexts.
Mentions: All participants were seated at the same table, with cooperative dyads beside one another and competitive dyads at different sides of the table (see Figure 1, for a schematic of the set-up). Thus, all participants in the competitive context could see each the others’ progress, which was designed to add to the competitive nature of the situation. Consistent with the different nature of the games, all the dyads in the cooperative task engaged in conversation with one another while performing the task, typically with conversation about the task—its difficulty, what pieces should go where, etc.,—ongoing throughout the 5-min session. In contrast, it was unusual for the competitive dyads to talk with one another, and they never engaged in any helping cooperative behaviors, such as assisting the other individual with solving a puzzle. These observations provided us with a solid basis for believing that the two tasks had been successful in establishing different types of relationships between the two groups, i.e., cooperative or competitive. And while we do not have eye contact and speech data from the cooperative dyads, a recent paper by Ho et al. (2015) did track the eyes of dyads while they engaged in cooperative games, and they found that eye gaze is used to signal both the end and the beginning of a speaking turn. Specifically, a speaker will end his or her speaking turn with direct gaze at the listener, and the listener will then begin to speak while averting their gaze. Note that these data make the additional important point that both eye contact, and the breaking of eye contact, are important communicative social signals.

Bottom Line: However, evolutionary theory holds that humans did not develop a high contrast morphology simply to use the eyes of others as attentional cues; rather they sacrificed camouflage for communication, that is, to signal their thoughts and intentions to others.In a single simple study we show experimentally that the effect of eye contact can be quickly and profoundly altered merely by having participants, who had never met before, play a game in a cooperative or competitive manner.Those who had played the game cooperatively found this terribly difficult to do, repeatedly talking and breaking gaze.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Neurocognition of Attention and Perception Lab, Department of Psychology, MacEwan University , Edmonton, AB, Canada.

ABSTRACT
In contrast to non-human primate eyes, which have a dark sclera surrounding a dark iris, human eyes have a white sclera that surrounds a dark iris. This high contrast morphology allows humans to determine quickly and easily where others are looking and infer what they are attending to. In recent years an enormous body of work has used photos and schematic images of faces to study these aspects of social attention, e.g., the selection of the eyes of others and the shift of attention to where those eyes are directed. However, evolutionary theory holds that humans did not develop a high contrast morphology simply to use the eyes of others as attentional cues; rather they sacrificed camouflage for communication, that is, to signal their thoughts and intentions to others. In the present study we demonstrate the importance of this by taking as our starting point the hypothesis that a cornerstone of non-verbal communication is the eye contact between individuals and the time that it is held. In a single simple study we show experimentally that the effect of eye contact can be quickly and profoundly altered merely by having participants, who had never met before, play a game in a cooperative or competitive manner. After the game participants were asked to make eye contact for a prolonged period of time (10 min). Those who had played the game cooperatively found this terribly difficult to do, repeatedly talking and breaking gaze. In contrast, those who had played the game competitively were able to stare quietly at each other for a sustained period. Collectively these data demonstrate that when looking at the eyes of a real person one both acquires and signals information to the other person. This duality of gaze is critical to non-verbal communication, with the nature of that communication shaped by the relationship between individuals, e.g., cooperative or competitive.

No MeSH data available.