Eye tracker as an implied social presence: awareness of being eye-tracked induces social-norm-based looking behaviour

Hoo Keat Wong, Ian D. Stephen

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    Human behaviour is not only influenced by the physical presence of others, but also implied social presence. This study examines the impact of awareness of being eye-tracked on eye movement behaviour in a laboratory setting. During a classic yes/no face recognition task, participants were made to believe that their eye movements were recorded (or not recorded) by eye trackers. Their looking patterns with and without the awareness of being eye-tracked were compared while perceiving social (faces, faces-and-bodies) and non-social (inanimate objects) video stimuli. Area-of-interest (AOI) analysis revealed that misinformed participants (who were not aware that their eye movements were being recorded) looked more at the body (chest and waist) compared to informed participants (who believed they were being eye-tracked), whereas informed participants fixated longer on the mouth and shorter on the eyes of female models than misinformed participants did. These findings highlight the potential impact of an awareness of being eye tracked on one's eye movement pattern when perceiving a social stimulus. We conclude that even within laboratory settings an eye tracker may function as an implied social presence that leads individuals to modify their eye movement behaviour according to socially-derived inhibitory norms.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number5
    Pages (from-to)1-17
    Number of pages17
    JournalJournal of Eye Movement Research
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 7 Aug 2019

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2019. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    • eye movement
    • eye tracking
    • implied social presence
    • looking behaviour
    • region of interest
    • social attention


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