Using the eye gaze of others to direct one's own attention develops during the first year of life and is thought to be an important skill for learning and social communication. However, it is currently unclear whether infants differentially attend to and encode objects cued by the eye gaze of individuals within familiar groups (e.g., own race, more familiar sex) relative to unfamiliar groups (e.g., other race, less familiar sex). During gaze cueing, but prior to the presentation of objects, 10-month-olds looked longer to the eyes of own-race faces relative to 5-month-olds and relative to the eyes of other-race faces. After gaze cueing, two objects were presented alongside the face and at both ages, infants looked longer to the uncued objects for faces from the more familiar-sex and longer to cued objects for the less familiar-sex faces. Finally, during the test phase, both 5- and 10-month-old infants looked longer to uncued objects relative to cued objects but only when the objects were cued by an own-race and familiar-sex individual. Results demonstrate that infants use face eye gaze differently when the cue comes from someone within a highly experienced group.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Funding for this research was provided to L. Scott from a National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award (BCS-1056805) and to C. Pickron from the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences (UMass Amherst). We would like to thank Sam Hutten (SR Research, UK) for technical support and programming/testing/analysis consultation, The Center for Research on Families (UMass Amherst) and Hillary Hadley (Psychological and Brain Sciences, UMass Amherst) for statistical consultation, and M. Andrade, E. Arnold, L. Banach, R. Barry-Anwar, M. Buyukozer-Dawkins, E. Glater, H. Hadley, K. Nakayassu, A. Sabol for testing support, relevant discussion and feedback.