Sex Differences in Attentional Selection Following Gaze and Arrow Cues
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Attentional selectionGaze-cueingTheory of mindAutistic quotientSex differences
Chacón-Candia JA, Lupiáñez J, Casagrande M and Marotta A (2020) Sex Differences in Attentional Selection Following Gaze and Arrow Cues. Front. Psychol. 11:95. [doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00095]
SponsorshipSupported by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness research projects (PSI2017-84926-P and PSI2014-52764-P) to JL, Juan de la Cierva fellowships IJCI-2014- 21113 to AM
Although most studies on social attention have shown undistinguishable attentional effects in response to eye-gaze and arrow cues, recent research has found that whereas the orienting of attention triggered by eye-gaze is directed to the specific position, or part of the object looked at, arrows unselectively elicit attention toward parts of the environment. However, it is unclear whether this dissociation between gaze and arrow cues is related to social cognitive mechanisms such as mental state attribution (Theory of Mind, ToM). We aimed at replicating the dissociation between gaze and arrow cues and investigating if the attentional object selection elicited by these two types of stimuli differs depending on the sex of observers. To make our research plan transparent, our hypotheses, together with the plans of analyses, were registered before data exploration. While we replicated the arrow–gaze dissociation, this was equivalent in the male and female population. These results seem to contradict the intuition that ToM skills can be associated with the differences observed between orienting to eyes and arrows since greater ToM abilities have been generally shown in females. However, this conclusion must be interpreted with caution, since, in our sample, it was not possible to observe any differences in autistic quotient scores and ToM abilities between male and female participants. Further research is needed in order to clarify this issue.