Interactions between the processing of gaze direction and facial expression Academic Article uri icon


  • In this article, we explored the relationship between the processing of facial expression and the processing of gaze direction. In Experiment 1, participants were unable to ignore gaze while classifying expression-or to ignore expression while classifying gaze. This suggests that the processing of expression and the processing of gaze are interdependent. In Experiment 2, the faces were inverted to isolate configural from part-based contributions to this interdependence. Inversion had a striking effect on expression judgments, which could now be processed independently of gaze, but not on gaze judgments, which were still influenced by expression, even when photos that contained only the eye region of faces were presented (Experiment 4). In Experiment 3 the processing of expression was found to be sensitive to even small variations in the direction of gaze. These results suggest that the processing underlying judgments of expression is configural and entails an obligatory computation of gaze direction. Judgments of gaze direction, however, are carried out in a part-based manner using local features around the eyes and are insensitive to the configural aspects of facial processing.

publication date

  • April 2005