Face age and social status exert different modulatory effects on gaze following behaviour

Abstract

The aim of the present study was to investigate whether face age and social status information associated with faces have different effects on gaze following behaviour as an index of joint attention. Participants were instructed to perform goal-directed saccades towards a peripheral stationary target, while a task-irrelevant face with averted gaze was presented. Faces of three different age groups (younger adults; middle-aged adults; and older adults) were associated with fictional résumés which could describe distracters as high or low social status people. Results showed that face age affected both saccade accuracy and latencies. Social status did not have an effect on accuracy and only affected correct saccades with higher latencies by modulating the face age effect. It is argued that the overt orienting of joint attention could be affected both by perceptual and higher order socio-cognitive factors, but at different stages of processing.


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