Journal Title/Source

Cogent Psychology

Publication Date

2-2016

Volume

3

Page Numbers

1147120

DOI (if applicable)

http://doi.org/10.1080/23311908.2016.1147120

Document Type

Journal Article

Department

Psychology

Abstract

Faces provide a platform for non-verbal communication through emotional expression and eye gaze. Fearful facial expressions are salient indicators of potential threat within the environment, which automatically capture observers’ attention. However, the degree to which fearful facial expressions facilitate attention to others’ gaze is unresolved. Given that fearful gaze indicates the location of potential threat, it was hypothesized that fearful gaze facilitates location processing. To test this hypothesis, a gaze cueing study with fearful and neutral faces assessing target localization was conducted. The task consisted of leftward, rightward, and forward/straight gaze trials. The inclusion of forward gaze trials allowed for the isolation of orienting and disengagement components of gaze-directed attention. The results suggest that both neutral and fearful gaze modulates attention through orienting and disengagement components. Fearful gaze, however, resulted in quicker orienting than neutral gaze. Thus, fearful faces enhance gaze cueing of spatial location through facilitated orienting.

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