Social antecedents and perceptual consequences of how we look at others.

Seeing each other’s faces—and looking into each other’s eyes—are the first steps in almost all human encounters, within and across groups. This article explores the links among visual attention, visual perception, and social behavior. Study 1 uses eye tracking to document that social information such as someone being a norm violator, which produces attenuations in configural processing, also shapes how people attend to faces. Results indicate that participants avoided eye contact with deviants. Using exogenous cues to guide participants’ gaze, Studies 2 and 3 reproduce the patterns of attention observed in Study 1 to assess whether attention by itself drives the impact of social information on perceptual processing. Study 2 shows that gaze patterns elicited by intentional harmdoers encourage configural processing of both intentional and unintentional harmdoers. In contrast, Study 3 shows that gaze patterns elicited by unintentional harmdoers attenuate face-typical processing of both intentional and unintentional harm-doers. Finally, Study 4 examines if gaze can change social judgments. Results demonstrate that people become more punitive when cued to attend to faces as they normally do with norm violators. In aggregate, these findings suggest that social perceptual effects are driven by attentional processes. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)