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Mental state attribution and the gaze cueing effect

Cole, G.G.; Smith, D.T.; Atkinson, M.A.

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G.G. Cole

M.A. Atkinson


Theory of mind is said to be possessed by an individual if he or she is able to impute mental states to others. Recently, some authors have demonstrated that such mental state attributions can mediate the “gaze cueing” effect, in which observation of another individual shifts an observer’s attention. One question that follows from this work is whether such mental state attributions produce mandatory modulations of gaze cueing. Employing the basic gaze cueing paradigm, together with a technique commonly used to assess mental-state attribution in nonhuman animals, we manipulated whether the gazing agent could see the same thing as the participant (i.e., the target) or had this view obstructed by a physical barrier. We found robust gaze cueing effects, even when the observed agent in the display could not see the same thing as the participant. These results suggest that the attribution of “seeing” does not necessarily modulate the gaze cueing effect.


Cole, G., Smith, D., & Atkinson, M. (2015). Mental state attribution and the gaze cueing effect. Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics, 77(4), 1105-1115.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 4, 2015
Online Publication Date Mar 4, 2015
Publication Date May 1, 2015
Deposit Date Jun 26, 2015
Publicly Available Date Mar 4, 2016
Journal Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics
Print ISSN 1943-3921
Electronic ISSN 1943-393X
Publisher Springer
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 77
Issue 4
Pages 1105-1115
Keywords Gaze cueing, Vision, Theory of mind, Social attention, Perspective taking.


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