CBBM Lecture - Eye contact and the meeting of minds

by Jari K. Hietanen, Human Information Processing Laboratory, Faculty of Social Sciences/Psychology, Tampere University, Finland

will take place on Tuesday, March 8th, 2022, Time: 3 pm German time (15:00 hours)
Online Location: 

Host: Ulrike Krämer
Department of Neurology

Abstract: Human social interaction is guided by a complex system of perceptual and higher-level cognitive, affective, and motivational processes. One essential perceptual cue in regulating interaction between individuals is gaze direction. Gaze conveys information about the direction of attention. A person gazing towards another person signals that his or her attention is directed to that person. The observer of another’s direct gaze, in turn, perceives to be a target of another’s attention.

In my presentation, I will describe studies showing the effects of another’s direct gaze on behavioural and various psychophysiological responses indexing attention, arousal, motivation, and cognitive processing. Interestingly, in many of our own studies, the effects of direct gaze have been observed only when the participants were looking at a “live” face of another person, but not when the same face was presented as a picture on a computer monitor. These findings suggest that the effects of another’s direct gaze are based on the observer’s attributions of being a target to another individual’s mind.

Biosketch: Jari Hietanen is a professor of psychology at Tampere University (Finland). He received his PhD from the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, in 1993. Since 1995, he has been working at Tampere University. His main interest is in social cognition and emotions. Much of his research has focused on questions related to how facial information (e.g., facial expressions and gaze direction) influences observers’ attention, emotion, and motivation.