Social Referencing Gaze Behavior During a Videogame Task: Eye Tracking Evidence from Children With and Without ASD

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to understand the social referencing behaviors of children with and without autism spectrum disorder (ASD) while visually attending to a videogame stimulus depicting both the face of the videogame player and the videogame play action. Videogames appear to offer a uniquely well-suited environment for the emergence of friendships, but it is not known if children with and without ASD attend to and play videogames similarly. Eyetracking technology was used to investigate visual attention of participants matched based on chronological age. Parametric and nonparametric statistical analyses were used and results indicated the groups did not differ on percentage of time spent visually attending to any of the areas of interest, with one possible exception.

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Acknowledgments

We would like to thank the children who participated in our study, as well as the Vista School who assisted with participant recruitment, and provided space for data collection. We would also like to thank the individuals who contributed significantly to stimulus development, data coding, and data management: Christine Regiec, Shannon McNellis, Emily Neumann, and Brandon Ly.

Author Contributions

Finke: material/stimuli development, recruitment, data collection, wrote 50% of manuscript; Wilkinson: material/stimuli development, data analysis, wrote 40% of manuscript; Hickerson: material/stimuli development, wrote 10% of manuscript.

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Correspondence to Erinn H. Finke.

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Erinn H. Finke, Krista M. Wilkinson and Benjamin D. Hickerson declares that they have no conflict of interest.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Finke, E.H., Wilkinson, K.M. & Hickerson, B.D. Social Referencing Gaze Behavior During a Videogame Task: Eye Tracking Evidence from Children With and Without ASD. J Autism Dev Disord 47, 415–423 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-016-2968-1

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Keywords

  • Videogames
  • Eyetracking
  • Social referencing
  • Autism