How do eye gaze and facial expression interact?

Markus Bindemann*, A. Mike Burton, Stephen R.H. Langton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

117 Citations (Scopus)


Previous research has demonstrated an interaction between eye gaze and selected facial emotional expressions, whereby the perception of anger and happiness is impaired when the eyes are horizontally averted within a face, but the perception of fear and sadness is enhanced under the same conditions. The current study reexamined these claims over six experiments. In the first three experiments, the categorization of happy and sad expressions (Experiments 1 and 2) and angry and fearful expressions (Experiment 3) was impaired when eye gaze was averted, in comparison to direct gaze conditions. Experiment 4 replicated these findings in a rating task, which combined all four expressions within the same design. Experiments 5 and 6 then showed that previous findings, that the perception of selected expressions is enhanced under averted gaze, are stimulus and task-bound. The results are discussed in relation to research on facial expression processing and visual attention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)708-733
Number of pages26
JournalVisual Cognition
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


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