Observation of another's action but not eye gaze triggers allocentric visual perspective

Elisabetta Mazzarella, Antonia Hamilton, Luigi Trojano, Bianca Mastromauro, Massimiliano Conson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the present paper, we investigated whether observation of bodily cues-that is, hand action and eye gaze-can modulate the onlooker's visual perspective taking. Participants were presented with scenes of an actor gazing at an object (or straight ahead) and grasping an object (or not) in a 2 × 2 factorial design and a control condition with no actor in the scene. In Experiment 1, two groups of subjects were explicitly required to judge the left/right location of the target from their own (egocentric group) or the actor's (allocentric group) point of view, whereas in Experiment 2 participants did not receive any instruction on the point of view to assume. In both experiments, allocentric coding (i.e., the actor's point of view) was triggered when the actor grasped the target, but not when he gazed towards it, or when he adopted a neutral posture. In Experiment 3, we demonstrate that the actor's gaze but not action affected participants' attention orienting. The different effects of others' grasping and eye gaze on observers' behaviour demonstrated that specific bodily cues convey distinctive information about other people's intentions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2447-2460
Number of pages14
JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012


  • Action observation
  • Eye gaze
  • Social attention
  • Visual perspective

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Psychology(all)
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology


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