Nature Publishing Group
Place of Publication
School of Arts and Humanities
We report the personal eye gaze patterns of people engaged in face-to-face getting acquainted conversation. Considerable differences between individuals are underscored by a stability of eye gaze patterns within individuals. Results suggest the existence of an eye-mouth gaze continuum. This continuum includes some people showing a strong preference for eye gaze, some with a strong preference for mouth gaze, and others distributing their gaze between the eyes and mouth to varying extents. Additionally, we found evidence of within-participant consistency not just for location preference but also for the duration of fixations upon the eye and mouth regions. We also estimate that during a 4-minute getting acquainted conversation mutual face gaze constitutes about 60% of conversation that occurs via typically brief instances of 2.2 seconds. Mutual eye contact ranged from 0-45% of conversation, via very brief instances. This was despite participants subjectively perceiving eye contact occurring for about 70% of conversation. We argue that the subjective perception of eye contact is a product of mutual face gaze instead of actual mutual eye contact. We also outline the fast activity of gaze movements upon various locations both on and off face during a typical face-to-face conversation.
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