Langton S, Honeyman H & Tessler E (2004) The influence of head contour and nose angle on the perception of eye-gaze direction. Perception and Psychophysics, 66 (5), pp. 752-771. https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03194970
We report seven experiments that investigate the influence that head orientation exerts on the perception of eye-gaze direction. In each of these experiments, participants were asked to decide whether the eyes in a brief and masked presentation were looking directly at them or were averted. In each case, the eyes could be presented alone, or in the context of congruent or incongruent stimuli. In Experiment 1A, the congruent and incongruent stimuli were provided by the orientation of face features and head outline. Discrimination of gaze direction was found to be better when face and gaze were congruent than in both of the other conditions, an effect that was not eliminated by inversion of the stimuli (Experiment 1B). In Experiment 2A, the internal face features were removed, but the outline of the head profile was found to produce an identical pattern of effects on gaze discrimination, effects that were again insensitive to inversion (Experiment 2B) and which persisted when lateral displacement of the eyes was controlled (Experiment 2C). Finally, in Experiment 3A, nose angle was also found to influence participants' ability to discriminate direct gaze from averted gaze, but here the effectwas eliminated by inversion of the stimuli (Experiment 3B). We concluded that an image-based mechanism is responsible for the influence of head profile on gaze perception, whereas the analysis of nose angle involves the configural processing of face features.
Perception and Psychophysics: Volume 66, Issue 5