Gaze following (i.e., looking at others’ eyes) is a widespread social behaviour and biological process that many animals, including humans, dogs, dolphins, and some birds, adopt (Shepherd, 2010). In a laboratory setting, gaze-following behaviour is often reflected by humans (or other animals) most often looking at the eyes of face images compared to other areas of the images.
Two primary theories explain why primates follow the eyes. The first hypothesis, eyes-are-special, speculates primates’ cortical neural system is preferentially biased towards processing eye information (Birmingham & Kingstone, 2009). In contrast, the face-as-the-centre-of-gravity hypothesis proposes that we gravitate our gaze towards the centre of a face. Because eyes are near the centre of the face, eyes are frequently fixated (Bindemann et al., 2009). The challenge to distinguish the two accounts lies in the fact that eyes are often in the centre of the face for humans and many animals.
Levy, who was a teenager studying at a secondary school when the article “Monsters are people too” (Levy et al., 2013) was published (!!), came up with the idea of using “monster” images (whose eyes are not near the centre of the face, but on the hands or feet etc.) to solve the issue. Levy and two co-authors used three types of images in the experiment to explore participants’ eye gaze behaviours, the image types were:
1. Human image, with eyes in the centre of the face
2. Humanoid image, creatures with eyes in the centre of the face
3. Monster image, creatures whose eyes are on their hands, feet, tail, or other parts of the body
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