The Influence of Competing Social and Symbolic Cues on Observers’ Gaze Behaviour

Flora Ioannidou, F. Hermens*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The effects of social (eye gaze, pointing gestures) and symbolic (arrows) cues on observers’ attention are often studied by presenting such cues in isolation and at fixation. Here, we extend this work by embedding cues in natural scenes. Participants were presented with a single cue (Experiment 1) or a combination of cues (Experiment 2) embedded in natural scenes and were asked to ‘simply look at the images’ while their eye movements were recorded to assess the effects of the cues on (overt) attention. Single-gaze and pointing cues were fixated for longer than arrows but at the cost of shorter dwell times on the cued object. When presented together, gaze and pointing cues were fixated faster and for longer than simultaneously presented arrows. Attention to the cued object depended on the combination of cues and whether both cues were directed towards or away from the target object. Together, the findings confirm earlier observations that people attract attention more strongly than arrows but that arrows more strongly direct attention.
Original languageEnglish
Article number23
Number of pages21
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2024


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