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The Mechanism of Gaze-Following Attention Shift under the False Alarm Condition

Author: ZhuChen
Tutor: ShenMoWei
School: Zhejiang University
Course: Basic Psychology
Keywords: false alarm expression gaze cue the gaze cue effect attention shift
CLC: B841
Type: Master's thesis
Year: 2011
Downloads: 11
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Abstract


Gaze cues entail vital importance in attention sharing with social members. Based on others’ gaze cues, observers are able to efficiently shift their attention to where the important information locates (i.e. the gaze cue effect). Besides the gazer’s facial expression provides significant implication of those gaze cues. There is evidence that if the gazer expresses fear, the gaze cue effect would be enhanced as the observer may deduce that there is something dangerous at that location. However, alarms are sometimes false. The gazer can express fear because s/he has mistaken a rope for a snake. In this case, it would be a waste of cognitive resource to maintain attention to where was gazed at. Hereby, the present study aimed at investigating the mechanism of gaze-following attention shift under the false alarm condition utilizing the spatial cuing paradigm.In Experiment 1, dynamic expressions were recruited to deliver the false alarm signal:a neutral face was first presented with eyes gazing straight forward followed by the eyes shifted to one side (left or right) while the face expressing fear. Then the expression regained neutral. The result showed that the shifted attention caused by the gaze cue effect immediately relocated to the original fixation under the false alarm condition. Experiment 2 was designed to eliminate the possibility that it was the change of physical features on the gazer’s face that attracted observers’ attention. The gazer’s eyelids and lips were manipulated to move in a reversed direction (e.g. becoming more fearful instead of regaining neutral) after the appearance of the gaze cue whereas the physical changes of the gazer’s features were matched. Experiment 2 didn’t generate the same result as Experiment1, implying that the relocated attention was not because of the change of physical features. Experiment 3 further explored whether the top-down control can inhibit the gaze cue effect. Participants were explicitly informed that the presented face became fearful simply because the gazer had made a mistake. Still the participants shifted their attention when the fearful expression was presented, suggesting that the gaze cue effect cannot be mediated by the top-down control.In sum, the findings suggested that the shifted attention caused by the gaze cues immediately relocated to the original fixation under the false alarm condition, which could not be achieved by the top-down control.

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