Tipples, J. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review (2002) 9: 314. doi:10.3758/BF03196287
Recent studies (Driver et al., 1999; Friesen & Kingstone, 1998; Langton & Bruce, 1999) have argued that the perception of eye gaze may be unique, as compared with other symbolic cues (e.g., arrows), in being able to automatically trigger attentional orienting. In Experiment 1, 17 participants took part in a visuospatial orienting task to investigate whether arrow cues might also trigger automatic orienting. Two arrow cues were presented for 75 msec to the left and right of a fixation asterisk. After an interval of either 25 or 225 msec, the letter O or X appeared. After both time intervals, mean response times were reliably faster when the arrows pointed toward, rather than away from, the location of the target letter. This occurred despite the fact that the participants were informed that the arrows did not predict where the target would appear. In Experiment 2, the same pattern of data was recorded when several adjustments had been made in an attempt to rule out alternative explanations for the cuing effects. Overall, the findings suggest that the eye gaze is not unique in automatically triggering orienting.