The effect of social roles on gaze cue utilisation in a real-world collaboration


During collaboration, people communicate using verbal and non-verbal cues, including gaze cues. Social factors can affect gaze allocation, however most research on gaze cueing has not considered these factors. The presence of social roles was manipulated in a collaborative task whilst eye movements were measured. In pairs, participants worked together to make a cake. Half of the pairs were given roles (“Chef” or “Gatherer”) and the other half were not. Across all participants we found, contrary to the results of static image experiments, that participants spent very little time looking at each other, challenging the generalisability of the conclusions from lab-based paradigms. When given spoken instructions, listeners in the roles condition looked at the speaker significantly more than listeners in the no roles condition. We conclude that our tendency to seek the gaze cues of collaborators is affected either by our social perceptions of the collaborator or their perceived reliability.

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