Modulation of eye contact-frequency by social crowding: a mobile eye-tracking study

[Speaker] Maran, Thomas:1
[Co-author] Furtner, Marco:1, Campidell, Thomas:1, Varesco Kager, Nora:1, Sachse, Pierre:1
1:University of Innsbruck (Austria)

Eye contact plays a key role in human social interactions. Eye contact modulates arousal and a variety of cognitive processes. Developmental studies show evidence for preferential orienting towards, and processing of, faces with direct gaze from early in life. There are currently any ecologically valid methods to explore eye contact behavior in real life situations. No study to date investigated the influence of different crowding situations on eye contact behavior using mobile eye-tracking technology. In sample of young adults (N=42) gaze patterns were recorded by a mobile eye-tracking device, counterbalanced in a low-crowded social situation (1 person sitting close) and a high-crowded social interaction (4 persons sitting close; order counterbalanced). Two important findings are discussed: First, eye contact varies as a function of social crowding and second, mobile eye-tracking is a valid instrument to explore social gaze behavior in real life situations.
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