Viewpoint and center of gravity affect eye movements to human faces

Markus Bindemann*, Christoph Scheepers, A. Mike Burton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

109 Citations (Scopus)


In everyday life, human faces are encountered in many different views. Despite this fact, most psychological research has focused on the perception of frontal faces. To address this shortcoming, the current study investigated how different face views are processed, by measuring eye movements to frontal, mid-profile and profile faces during a gender categorization (Experiment 1) and a free-viewing task (Experiment 2). In both experiments observers initially fixated the geometric center of a face, independent of face view. This center-of-gravity effect induced a qualitative shift in the features that were sampled across different face views in the time period immediately after stimulus onset. Subsequent eye fixations focused increasingly on specific facial features. At this stage, the eye regions were targeted predominantly in all face views, and to a lesser extent also the nose and the mouth. These findings show that initial saccades to faces are driven by general stimulus properties, before eye movements are redirected to the specific facial features in which obiservers take an interest. These findings are illustrated in detail by plotting the distribution of fixations, first fixations, and percentage fixations across time.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7
JournalJournal of Vision
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 9 Feb 2009
Externally publishedYes


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