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Cognition. 2014 Oct;133(1):120-7. doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2014.06.009. Epub 2014 Jul 10.

Eye contact elicits bodily self-awareness in human adults.

Author information

1
Laboratory of Psychopathology and Neuropsychology (LPN, EA2027), Université Paris 8, Saint-Denis 93526 cedex, France. Electronic address: matias.baltazar.p8@gmail.com.
2
Laboratory of Psychopathology and Neuropsychology (LPN, EA2027), Université Paris 8, Saint-Denis 93526 cedex, France.

Abstract

Eye contact is a typical human behaviour known to impact concurrent or subsequent cognitive processing. In particular, it has been suggested that eye contact induces self-awareness, though this has never been formally proven. Here, we show that the perception of a face with a direct gaze (that establishes eye contact), as compared to either a face with averted gaze or a mere fixation cross, led adult participants to rate more accurately the intensity of their physiological reactions induced by emotional pictures. Our data support the view that bodily self-awareness becomes more acute when one is subjected to another's gaze. Importantly, this effect was not related to a particular arousal state induced by eye contact perception. Rejecting the arousal hypothesis, we suggest that eye contact elicits a self-awareness process by enhancing self-focused attention in humans. We further discuss the implications of this proposal.

KEYWORDS:

Arousal; Eye contact; Interoception; Self-awareness; Self-focused attention

PMID:
25014360
DOI:
10.1016/j.cognition.2014.06.009
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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