More than meets the eyeDuring the interactions, the participants spent more time looking away than looking at their partner’s faces. When they did look at each other’s faces, they looked equally often at the mouth and eye region and spent little time in mutual eye-to-eye contact. However, the time spent looking directly into each other’s eyes predicted subsequent gaze-following. In other words, pairs who looked directly into each other’s eyes were more likely to follow their partner’s gaze afterwards.
"This study is one of the first to show the prevalence of eye-to-eye looking during real-life interactions. We found that, surprisingly, direct eye-to-eye contact was quite rare during interactions, but that it is significant for social dynamics. The time we engage in eye-to-eye contact, even if for a few seconds, appears to be an important predictive factor for subsequent social behavior" concludes Mayrand.
This work opens several promising paths for future investigations, ranging from exploring the content of social messages conveyed by eye gaze to investigating the variability of eye-to-eye engagement with changes in interactive context and understanding if the quantity and content of speech influences gaze patterns during interactions.
With files from Tobii