My eyes want to look where your eyes are looking: Exploring the tendency to imitate another individual's gaze

Paola Ricciardelli, Emanuela Bricolo, Salvatore M. Aglioti, Leonardo Chelazzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In this study we investigated the tendency of humans to imitate the gaze direction of other individuals. Distracting gaze stimuli or non biological directional cues (arrows) were presented to observers performing an instructed saccadic eye movement task. Eye movement recordings showed that observers performed less accurately when the distracting gaze and the instructed saccade had opposite directions, with a substantial number of saccades matching the direction of the distracting gaze. Static (Experiment 1) and dynamic (Experiment 2) gaze distracters, but not pointing arrows (Experiment 3), produced the effect. Results show a strong predisposition of humans to imitate somebody else's oculomotor behaviour, even when detrimental to task performance. This is likely linked to a strong tendency to share attentional states of other individuals, known as joint attention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2259-2264
Number of pages6
JournalNeuroReport
Volume13
Issue number17
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 3 2002

Keywords

  • Gaze
  • Imitation
  • Joint attention
  • Mirror system
  • Oculomotor behaviour
  • Social attention
  • Social cognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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