Best friends: children use mutual gaze to identify friendships in others

Nurmsoo, Erika and Einav, S. and Hood, B.M. (2012) Best friends: children use mutual gaze to identify friendships in others. Developmental Science, 15 (3). pp. 417-425. ISSN 1363-755X. (doi: (Full text available)

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This study examined children’s ability to use mutual eye gaze as a cue to friendships in others. In Experiment 1, following a discussion about friendship, 4-, 5-, and 6-year-olds were shown animations in which three cartoon children looked at one another, and were told that one target character had a best friend. Although all age groups accurately detected the mutual gaze between the target and another character, only 5- and 6-year-olds used this cue to infer friendship. Experiment 2 replicated the effect with 5- and 6-year-olds when the target character was not explicitly identified. Finally, in Experiment 3, where the attribution of friendship could only be based on synchronized mutual gaze, 6-year-olds made this attribution, while 4- and 5-year-olds did not. Children occasionally referred to mutual eye gaze when asked to justify their responses in Experiments 2 and 3, but it was only by the age of 6 that reference to these cues correlated with the use of mutual gaze in judgements of affiliation. Although younger children detected mutual gaze, it was not until 6 years of age that children reliably detected and justified mutual gaze as a cue to friendship.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: Erika Nurmsoo
Date Deposited: 12 Apr 2012 13:48 UTC
Last Modified: 27 Feb 2016 15:58 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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