Looking ahead: Anticipatory cueing of attention to objects others will look at.
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Seeing a face gaze at an object elicits rapid attention shifts toward the same object. We tested whether gaze cueing is predictive: do people shift their attention toward objects others are merely expected to look at? Participants categorized objects while a face either looked at this object, at another object, or straight ahead. Unbeknownst to participants, one face would only look at drinks and the other at foods. We tested whether attention was drawn toward objects "favored" by a face even when currently looking straight ahead. Indeed, while gaze expectations initially had a disruptive effect, participants did shift attention to the faces' favored objects once learning had been established, as long as emotional expressions had indicated personal relevance of the object to the individual. These data support predictive models of social perception, which assume that predictions can drive perception and action, as if these stimuli were directly perceived.
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