How the Eyes Tell Lies
It has long been accepted that in social interactions the gaze of others is important and is related to theory of mind – that is how well we understand the thoughts and intentions of another person and how those thoughts and intentions differ from our own.
Using eye-tracking new research aimed to examine particular parts of eye gaze theory, specifically:
(a) confirm that people can spontaneously use the target of gaze to make inferences about the thoughts and feelings of another person
(b) examine how attention can be flexibly deployed to mislead these inferences
The research team from the University of Essex conducted 2 experiments that would consider these concepts and were able to identify some interesting results:
The results confirmed that people were able to read the minds of someone in the preference task by watching the person’s eye movements.
That is to say that an observer watching the eye movement of somebody was able to identify preferences just from watching the persons eyes – ultimately that we make inferences from gazes that are accurate.
The researchers were also able to show that it was possible to mislead the observers:
More specifically, behavior in the Lie trials provides strong evidence that people can moderate their gaze behavior according to the demands of the social situation—in this case to mislead an observer
The results from the experiments may be of use in the future:
For example.. the use of gaze as a model in learning, expertise, and problem solving.
In several studies across different domains it has been shown that participants in skilled visual search tasks can improve if shown the eye movements of an expert