Gaze Patterns in Viewing Static and Dynamic Body Expressions


Evidence for the importance of bodily cues for emotion recognition has grown over the last two decades. Despite this growing literature, it is underspecified how observers view whole bodies for body expression recognition. Here we investigate to which extent body-viewing is face- and context-specific when participants are categorizing whole body expressions in static (Experiment 1) and dynamic displays (Experiment 2). Eye-movement recordings showed that observers viewed the face exclusively when visible in dynamic displays, whereas viewing was distributed over head, torso and arms in static displays and in dynamic displays with faces not visible. The strong face bias in dynamic face-visible expressions suggests that viewing of the body responds flexibly to the informativeness of facial cues for emotion categorisation. However, when facial expressions are static or not visible, observers adopt a viewing strategy that includes all upper body regions. This viewing strategy is further influenced by subtle viewing biases directed towards emotion-specific body postures and movements to optimise recruitment of diagnostic information for emotion categorisation.

Acta Psychologica
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