The owl and the pussycat: Gaze cues and visuospatial orienting

Susanne Quadflieg, Malia F. Mason, C. Neil Macrae*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

60 Citations (Scopus)


Recent research has shown that nonpredictive gaze cues trigger reflexive shifts in attention toward the looked-at location. But just how generalizable is this spatial cuing effect? In particular, are people especially tuned to gaze cues provided by conspecifics, or can comparable shifts in visual attention be triggered by other cue providers and directional cues? To investigate these issues, we used a standard cuing paradigm to compare the attentional orienting produced by different cue providers (i.e., animate vs. inanimate) and directional cues (i.e., eyes vs. arrows). The results of three experiments revealed that attentional orienting was insensitive to both the identity of the cue provider and the nature of the triggering cue. However, compared with arrows, gaze cues prompted a general enhancement in the efficiency of processing operations. We consider the implications of these findings for accounts of reflexive visual orienting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)826-831
Number of pages6
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2004


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