Gaze aversion: A response to cognitive or social difficulty?

Doherty-Sneddon, Gwyneth and Phelps, Fiona (2005) Gaze aversion: A response to cognitive or social difficulty? Memory and Cognition, 33 (4). pp. 727-733. ISSN 1532-5946

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.3758/BF03195338

Abstract

When asked questions, adults and children often avert their gaze at certain points within the interaction, especially when questions are difficult (Doherty-Sneddon, Bruce, Bonner, Longbotham, & Doyle, 2002; Glenberg, Schroeder, & Robertson, 1998). Gaze aversion may be a way of managing the cognitive load associated with the processing of visual environmental information, or it may serve to alleviate a negative social-emotional experience, such as the self-consciousness associated with, for example, a fear of failure. In the present study, thirty-six 8-year-olds were questioned either face to face or across a live video link. Questions varied in type (arithmetic, verbal reasoning, and autobiographical and episodic memory) and in difficulty. Children averted their gaze more during face-to-face questioning than during video-mediated questioning; however, question difficulty had a very strong influence on aversion in both interview conditions. It is concluded that although social factors play a role in children’s gaze aversion during pedagogical question–answer sequences, the primary function of averting gaze is to manage the cognitive load involved in the processing of environmental information.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: C800 Psychology
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > School of Life Sciences > Psychology
Depositing User: EPrints Services
Date Deposited: 06 Jul 2010 15:47
Last Modified: 10 Aug 2015 11:49
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/3716

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