Social Psychology Eye
- Issue Information July 27, 2015
- Temples, Towers, Shifting Sands: “Greater Truth” in Historical Writing July 27, 2015
- State and Religion in the Formative Stage of Islam (7th–11th Centuries C.E.) July 27, 2015
- New Trends in the Political History of Iran Under the Great Saljuqs (11th–12th Centuries) July 27, 2015
- The Aims of Big History July 27, 2015
- Why do we join groups?
- Confirmation Bias, Satire, and Stephen Colbert
- It's Complicated: The Realm of On & Off Relationships
- If First You Don't Succeed, Prophesize Again: In the Face of Dissonant Followers, Camping Sticks to his Tune
- Astrology, the Forer Effect, and the Allure of Personal Feedback
- Strategic advantages to helping international out-groups
- Women with hairy legs – an oxymoron?
- Cubicle-phobia in the 21st century
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Tag Archives: motivational response
By Erica Zaiser
You know those moments when you are walking and someone else seems to be coming straight towards you. Don’t you hate when you both move to the same side to pass each other and then have an awkward moment where you almost collide? It usually ends with both parties engaged in that terribly uncoordinated dance, trying to figure out which way the other person is going to go. Or is that just me? But really, if you think about it, its pretty amazing how often we don’t actually run into each other. Most of the time when we walk down the street we coordinate our use of physical space with a total stranger pretty well, without saying a word, and we tend to do it very quickly. It makes you wonder, what are we doing to effectively communicate our intention to move left or right?
Research from the December issue of Psychological Science helps unravel this phenomenon a bit. In an experiment using eye-tracking, Nummenmaa and colleagues found that people use their gaze to indicate which direction they will travel. Conversely, you receive information from the gaze of an oncoming pedestrian and react by purposefully moving in the opposite direction. This might seem obvious but its actually an interesting finding because most past studies on gaze-following have shown it to be a reflexive social habit. In other words, when people look somewhere, we tend to automatically follow their gaze and look in the same direction. This research suggests that we might have two systems guiding our gaze -following: the first being an automatic response to follow the direction of a gaze and the second system based on intentions and goals, which allows us to interpret a gaze within a specific context. Thus, in the context of pedestrian navigation, gaze-following does not occur in its ordinary passive, automatic way… if it did, we might run into each other a lot more often.