Tracking the Leader: Gaze Behavior in Group Interactions

iScience. 2019 Jun 28:16:242-249. doi: 10.1016/j.isci.2019.05.035. Epub 2019 May 28.


Can social gaze behavior reveal the leader during real-world group interactions? To answer this question, we developed a novel tripartite approach combining (1) computer vision methods for remote gaze estimation, (2) a detailed taxonomy to encode the implicit semantics of multi-party gaze features, and (3) machine learning methods to establish dependencies between leadership and visual behaviors. We found that social gaze behavior distinctively identified group leaders. Crucially, the relationship between leadership and gaze behavior generalized across democratic and autocratic leadership styles under conditions of low and high time-pressure, suggesting that gaze can serve as a general marker of leadership. These findings provide the first direct evidence that group visual patterns can reveal leadership across different social behaviors and validate a new promising method for monitoring natural group interactions.

Keywords: Behavioral Neuroscience; Neuroscience; Social Interaction.