Gaze following in multiagent contexts: Evidence for a quorum-like principle
Research shows that humans spontaneously follow another individual’s gaze. However, little remains known on how they respond when multiple gaze cues diverge across members of a social group. To address this question, we presented participants with displays depicting three (Experiment 1) or five (Experiment 2) agents showing diverging social cues. In a three-person group, one individual looking at the target (33% of the group) was sufficient to elicit gaze-facilitated target responses. With a five-person group, however, three individuals looking at the target (60% of the group) were necessary to produce the same effect. Gaze following in small groups therefore appears to be based on a quorum-like principle, whereby the critical level of social information needed for gaze following is determined by a proportion of consistent social cues scaled as a function of group size. As group size grows, greater agreement is needed to evoke joint attention.
KeywordsGaze cuing Joint attention Small groups Social influence Socially acquired information
Supported by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC; F.C. and J.R.), Fonds de Recherche du Québec—Société et culture (FRQSC; FC), Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada (NSERC; J.R.), William Dawson Chairs Fund (J.R.), Leverhulme Trust Project Grant RPG-2016-173 (A.P.B.). Many thanks to K. Stadel for support in data collection.
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