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Don’t be fooled! Attentional responses to social cues in a face-to-face and video magic trick reveals greater top-down control for overt than covert attention

Kuhn, Gustav; Teszka, Robert; Tenaw, Natalia and Kingstone, Alan. 2016. Don’t be fooled! Attentional responses to social cues in a face-to-face and video magic trick reveals greater top-down control for overt than covert attention. Cognition, 146, pp. 136-142. ISSN 0010-0277 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

People’s attention is oriented towards faces, but the extent to which these social attention effects are under top down control is more ambiguous. Our first aim was to measure and compare, in real life and in the lab, people’s top-down control over overt and covert shifts in reflexive social attention to the face of another. We employed a magic trick in which the magician used social cues (i.e. asking a question whilst establishing eye contact) to misdirect attention towards his face, and thus preventing participants from noticing a visible colour change to a playing card. Our results show that overall people spend more time looking at the magician’s face when he is seen on video than in reality. Additionally, although most participants looked at the magician’s face when misdirected, this tendency to look at the face was modulated by instruction (i.e., “keep your attention on the cards”), and therefore, by top down control. Moreover, while the card’s colour change was fully visible, the majority of participants failed to notice the change, and critically, change detection (our measure of covert attention) was not affected by where people looked (overt attention). We conclude that there is a tendency to shift overt and covert attention reflexively to faces, but that people exert more top down control over this overt shift in attention. These finding are discussed within a new framework that focuses on the role of eye movements as an attentional process as well as a form of non-verbal communication.

Item Type:

Article

Identification Number (DOI):

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2015.08.005

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Psychology

Dates:

DateEvent
January 2016Published
24 September 2015Published Online
11 August 2015Accepted

Item ID:

16189

Date Deposited:

11 Jan 2016 22:45

Last Modified:

24 Jun 2019 10:54

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.

URI:

http://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/16189

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