Publications of Böckler, A.

Giving a helping hand: Effects of joint attention on mental rotation of body parts

Research on joint attention has addressed both the effects of gaze following and the ability to share representations. It is largely unknown, however, whether sharing attention also affects the perceptual processing of jointly attended objects. This study tested whether attending to stimuli with another person from opposite perspectives induces a tendency to adopt an allocentric rather than an egocentric reference frame. Pairs of participants performed a handedness task while individually or jointly attending to rotated hand stimuli from opposite sides. Results revealed a significant flattening of the performance rotation curve when participants attended jointly (experiment 1). The effect of joint attention was robust to manipulations of social interaction (cooperation versus competition, experiment 2), but was modulated by the extent to which an allocentric reference frame was primed (experiment 3). Thus, attending to objects together from opposite perspectives makes people adopt an allocentric rather than the default egocentric reference frame.

Observing shared attention modulates gaze following. Cognition

Humans' tendency to follow others' gaze is considered to be rather resistant to top-down influences. However, recent evidence indicates that gaze following depends on prior eye contact with the observed agent. Does observing two people engaging in eye contact also modulate gaze following? Participants observed two faces looking at each other or away from each other before jointly shifting gaze to one of two locations. Targets appeared either at the cued location or at the non-cued location. In three experiments gaze cueing effects (faster responses to objects appearing at the cued location) were found only when the two faces had looked at each other before shifting gaze. In contrast, no effects of gaze following were observed when the two faces had looked away from each other. Thus, the attentional relation between observed people modulates whether their gaze is followed.