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Perception. 2018 Dec 27:301006618819628. doi: 10.1177/0301006618819628. [Epub ahead of print]

The Upper Eye Bias: Rotated Faces Draw Fixations to the Upper Eye.

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Department of Psychology, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA, USA.
Department of Neurosciences, University of California, San Diego, CA, USA.


There is a consistent left-gaze bias when observers fixate upright faces, but it is unknown how this bias manifests in rotated faces, where the two eyes appear at different heights on the face. In two eye-tracking experiments, we measured participants' first and second fixations, while they judged the expressions of upright and rotated faces. We hypothesized that rotated faces might elicit a bias to fixate the upper eye. Our results strongly confirmed this hypothesis, with the upper eye bias completely dominating the left-gaze bias in ±45° faces in Experiment 1, and across a range of face orientations (±11.25°, ±22.5°, ±33.75°, ±45°, and ±90°) in Experiment 2. In addition, rotated faces elicited more overall eye-directed fixations than upright faces. We consider potential mechanisms of the upper eye bias in rotated faces and discuss some implications for research in social cognition.


attention; eye movements; face perception; features/parts


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