Article

Development of gaze aversion: qualitiative changes over the early school years

Citation

Doherty-Sneddon G, Phelps F & Clark J (2007) Development of gaze aversion: qualitiative changes over the early school years. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 25 (4), pp. 513-526. https://doi.org/10.1348/026151006X172018

Abstract
Looking away from an interlocutors’ face during demanding cognitive activity can help adults and children answer challenging mental arithmetic and verbal-reasoning questions (Glenberg, Schroeder, & Robertson, 1998; Phelps, Doherty-Sneddon & Warnock, in press). Whilst such ‘gaze aversion’ (GA) is used far less by 5-year old school children, its use increases dramatically during the first years of primary education, reaching adult levels by 8-years of age (Doherty-Sneddon, Bruce, Bonner, Longbotham, & Doyle, 2002). The current study investigates whether developmental changes also occur in a qualitative aspect of GA - the direction of movement involved in GA shifts. Video data from 18 5-year-olds and 19 8-year-olds answering verbal and arithmetic questions were analysed for direction of GA. We found very different profiles of direction of GA across the two ages: whilst the 5-year-olds used predominantly rapid multi-directional ‘flicking’ movements and some sustained left lateral movements, the 8-year-olds used predominantly sustained rightward movements. It is concluded that, as well as quantitative increases in the use of GA across these age groups, there are concomitant qualitative changes in the nature of GA shifts. A model of human attention in face-to-face interaction is discussed as are implications for the assessment of children’s learning and development.

Keywords
Gaze aversion; Child Development; Attention; Cognitive load; Learning; Gaze (Psychology); Learning, Psychology of; Child development; Problem-solving in children; Attention in children

Journal
British Journal of Developmental Psychology: Volume 25, Issue 4

StatusPublished
Publication date30/11/2007
URLhttp://hdl.handle.net/1893/387
PublisherBritish Psychological Society
ISSN0261-510X