You look where I look! Effect of gaze cues on overt and covert attention in misdirection

Gustav Kuhn, Benjamin W. Tatler, Geoff G. Cole

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    94 Citations (Scopus)


    We designed a magic trick in which misdirection was used to orchestrate observers' attention in order to prevent them from detecting the to-be-concealed event. By experimentally manipulating the magician's gaze direction we investigated the role that gaze cues have in attentional orienting, independently of any low level features. Participants were significantly less likely to detect the to-be-concealed event if the misdirection was supported by the magician's gaze, thus demonstrating that the gaze plays an important role in orienting people's attention. Moreover, participants spent less time looking at the critical hand when the magician's gaze was used to misdirect their attention away from the hand. Overall, the magician's face, and in particular the eyes, accounted for a large proportion of the fixations. The eyes were popular when the magician was looking towards the observer; once he looked towards the actions and objects being manipulated, participants typically fixated the gazed-at areas. Using a highly naturalistic paradigm using a dynamic display we demonstrate gaze following that is independent of the low level features of the scene.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)925-944
    Number of pages20
    JournalVisual Cognition
    Issue number6-7
    Publication statusPublished - 2009


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