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Dev Psychol. 2008 Nov;44(6):1655-67. doi: 10.1037/a0013299.

Tell-tale eyes: children's attribution of gaze aversion as a lying cue.

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  • 1Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, Oxford, England. shiri.einav@psy.ox.ac.uk

Abstract

This study examined whether the well-documented adult tendency to perceive gaze aversion as a lying cue is also evident in children. In Experiment 1, 6-year-olds, 9-year-olds, and adults were shown video vignettes of speakers who either maintained or avoided eye contact while answering an interviewer's questions. Participants evaluated whether the speaker was telling the truth or lying on each trial. The results revealed that at both ages, children were more likely to attribute lying to speakers in the gaze aversion condition; however, the effect was significantly greater among 9-year-olds. Significant gender differences were also uncovered, with girls demonstrating strongest sensitivity to the gaze cue. Experiment 2 replicated the gender effect in 6-year-olds but found that when the speakers' verbal responses were removed, boys' use of the gaze cue increased and the gender difference disappeared. These findings indicate that at 6 years old, children interpret interpersonal gaze behavior as a socially informative cue. Furthermore, the growing appreciation of the stereotypic gaze behavior associated with lying and the reputed female advantage in gaze sensitivity may reflect differential processing of multimodal communication.

PMID:
18999328
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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