Laying Eyes on Headlights: Eye Movements Suggest Facial Features in Cars

Authors/others:Windhager, Sonja; Hutzler, Florian (Paris-Lodron Universität Salzburg); Carbon, Claus-Christian; Oberzaucher, Elisabeth; Schäfer, Katrin; Truls, Thorstensen (EFS Unternehmensberatung GesmbH); Leder, Helmut; Grammer, Karl
Abstract:Humans' proneness to see faces even in inanimate structures such as cars has long been noticed, yet empirical evidence is scarce. To examine this tendency of anthropomorphism, participants were asked to compare specific features (such as the eyes) of a face and a car front presented next to each other. Eye movement patterns indicated on which visual information participants relied to solve the task and clearly revealed the perception of facial features in cars, such as headlights as eyes or grille as nose. Most importantly, a predominance of headlights was found in attracting and guiding people's gaze irrespective of the feature they were asked to compare - equivalent to the role of the eyes during face perception. This response to abstract configurations is interpreted as an adaptive bias of the respective inherent mechanism for face perception and is evolutionarily reasonable with regard to a "better safe than sorry" strategy.
Number of pages:6
Date of publication:2010
Journal title:Collegium Antropologicum
Peer reviewed:true
Bibliographical note:***109114.28***
Publication Type:Article