Tracking developmental differences in real-world social attention across adolescence, young adulthood and older adulthood

Martina De Lillo, Rebecca Foley, Matthew C. Fysh, Aimée Stimson, Elisabeth E. F. Bradford, Camilla Woodrow-Hill, Heather J. Ferguson (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
27 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Detecting and responding appropriately to social information in one's environment is a vital part of everyday social interactions. Here, we report two preregistered experiments that examine how social attention develops across the lifespan, comparing adolescents (10-19 years old), young (20-40 years old) and older (60-80 years old) adults. In two real-world tasks, participants were immersed in different social interaction situations-a face-to-face conversation and navigating an environment-and their attention to social and non-social content was recorded using eye-tracking glasses. The results revealed that, compared with young adults, adolescents and older adults attended less to social information (that is, the face) during face-to-face conversation, and to people when navigating the real world. Thus, we provide evidence that real-world social attention undergoes age-related change, and these developmental differences might be a key mechanism that influences theory of mind among adolescents and older adults, with potential implications for predicting successful social interactions in daily life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1381-1390
Number of pages10
JournalNature Human Behaviour
Volume5
Early online date13 May 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021

Keywords

  • Developmental studies
  • Human behaviour
  • Psychology

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