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Cognitive Neuroscience, Development, and PsychopathologyTypical and Atypical Developmental Trajectories of Attention$
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Jacob A. Burack, James T. Enns, and Nathan A. Fox

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780195315455

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195315455.001.0001

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INVESTIGATING SOCIAL ATTENTION

INVESTIGATING SOCIAL ATTENTION

A CASE FOR INCREASING STIMULUS COMPLEXITY IN THE LABORATORY

Chapter:
(p.251) ﹛ 10 ﹜ INVESTIGATING SOCIAL ATTENTION
Source:
Cognitive Neuroscience, Development, and Psychopathology
Author(s):

Elina Birmingham

Jelena Ristic

Alan Kingstone

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195315455.003.0010

Gaze following, a key component of social attention, has received substantial research interest over the past few decades. There has been an increasing trend to study gaze following using controlled computer-based laboratory tasks. While these methods offer more control over the experimental setting, they remove much of what is unique about real-world social situations. This chapter argues that the use of highly simplified, structured social attention experiments may be reducing the natural variance in behavior that is expected in real-world social settings, thus limiting what social attention researchers can discover. Examples are drawn from research with healthy individuals and individuals with known social attention difficulties (i.e., autism spectrum disorders [ASD]). These examples illustrate that the most interesting and robust social attention findings may come from an approach that seeks to incorporate the complexity and ambiguity of real-world social situations. This approach, Cognitive Ethology, is discussed.

Keywords:   social attention, gaze following, autism spectrum disorders, real-world settings, Cognitive Ethology

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