A novel perceptual trait: gaze predilection for faces during visual exploration

Nitzan Guy*, Hagar Azulay, Rasha Kardosh, Yarden Weiss, Ran R. Hassin, Salomon Israel, Yoni Pertzov

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Humans are social animals and typically tend to seek social interactions. In our daily life we constantly move our gaze to collect visual information which often includes social information, such as others’ emotions and intentions. Recent studies began to explore how individuals vary in their gaze behavior. However, these studies focused on basic features of eye movements (such as the length of movements) and did not examine the observer predilection for specific social features such as faces. We preformed two test-retest experiments examining the amount of time individuals fixate directly on faces embedded in images of naturally occurring scenes. We report on stable and robust individual differences in visual predilection for faces across time and tasks. Individuals’ preference to fixate on faces could not be explained by a preference for fixating on low-level salient regions (e.g. color, intensity, orientation) nor by individual differences in the Big-Five personality traits. We conclude that during visual exploration individuals vary in the amount of time they direct their gaze towards faces. This tendency is a trait that not only reflects individuals’ preferences but also influences the amount of information gathered by each observer, therefore influencing the basis for later cognitive processing and decisions.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number10714
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2019

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© 2019, The Author(s).


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