Shirama A, 2012, "Stare in the crowd: Frontal face guides overt attention independently of its gaze direction" Perception 41(4) 447 – 459
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Stare in the crowd: Frontal face guides overt attention independently of its gaze direction
Received 6 September 2011, in revised form 22 March 2012
Abstract. Whether or not a stare in the midst of many faces can guide visual attention is a controversial issue. Two experiments are reported that investigate the hypothesis that visual attention is guided toward a frontal face in the search for a stare among faces with varied head angles. The participants were required to search for a face with a direct gaze in a context where the target could be at any of various head angles and the target’s head angle was unpredictable in one trial. The search performance was better for a frontal-face target than for deviated-face targets. Furthermore, eye-movement analyses revealed that a frontal-face stimulus tended to be initially fixated prior to deviated-face stimuli, and many of the initially fixated frontal-face stimuli had an averted gaze. The findings suggest that a frontal face guides overt attention independently of its gaze direction in the search for a stare in a crowd. The validity of prioritising a frontal face in order to find a direct gaze among faces and the characteristics of a human-face detection system are discussed.
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