Langton S (2010) Gaze Perception and Visually Mediated Attention. In: Adams JR, Ambady N, Nakayama K & Shimojo S (eds.) The Science of Social Vision. Oxford Series in Visual Cognition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 108-132. http://global.oup.com/academic/product/the-science-of-social-vision-9780195333176;jsessionid=F6391E9408F95E3C492A6700D48B3266?cc=gb〈=en&
First paragraph: Among all of the non-verbal social signals which humans use, eye-gaze is arguably the most important in terms of conveying something about the current contents of the gazer's inner world. This is because people tend to look at things which are relevant to their immediate ongoing behaviour - things they are about to act upon, things in which they are interested or things about which they are thinking or talking. Once we come to understand that gazing at something brings about an inner experience of the gazed-at object, and that other people experience something similar when their eyes point towards the same object, then perceiving another's gaze and following their line of regard to the gazed at object actually brings about a meeting of minds; at one level, both people will share a similar visual experience of one aspect of the world. This kind of joint or shared attention is considered by some to be an important milestone in developing the full range of mental state concepts known as a Theory of Mind (e.g., Baron-Cohen, 1995). However, as well as telling us something about the content of another person's mind, their gaze direction influences our judgements about how they are feeling (Adams & Kleck, 2003, 2005; Bindemann, Burton & Langton, in press), whether they are likeable or attractive (Mason, Tatkow & Macrae, 2005), and whether we are likely to remember their face in the future (Mason, Hood & Macrae, 2004). Keeping track of someone's gaze during a social interaction also helps us to judge when it is our turn to speak or when we should leave the conversational stage to the speaker (Kendon, 1967). In assimilating all of this information we are therefore able to make predictions about what someone is likely to do next so that we can prepare appropriate behavioural responses in return.