Look into my eyes: gaze direction and person memory

Memory. 2004 Sep;12(5):637-43. doi: 10.1080/09658210344000152.


The current research considered the effects of gaze direction on a fundamental aspect of social cogition: person memory. It was anticipated that a person's direction of gaze (i.e., direct or averted) would impact his or her subsequent memorability, such that recognition would be enhanced for targets previously displaying direct gaze. In Experiment 1, participants were presented with faces displaying either direct or averted gaze in a person-classification (i.e., conceptual) task. Then, in a surprise memory test, they were required to report whether a presented face had been seen before. As expected, a recognition advantage was observed for targets displaying direct gaze during the initial classification task. This finding was replicated and extended in a second experiment in which participants initially reported the spatial location (i.e., perceptual task) of each face. We consider the implications of these findings for basic aspects of social-cognitive functioning and person perception.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Cognition*
  • Face
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Memory*
  • Models, Psychological
  • Psychological Tests
  • Recognition, Psychology
  • Space Perception