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Friday, April 8, 2016

Civil Inattention

How We Read People's Minds Through Their Eyes

Where do we look when we think no one's looking?

David Ludden | March 30, 2016

Which would you rather hang in your living room—a picture of an empty chair, or a picture of somebody sitting in that chair?
Our gaze is naturally drawn to other people, and even a portrait of an unknown person wouldn’t be out of place over the mantle or behind the sofa. Yet a portrait of an empty chair would be bizarre. We’d probably even invent some reason why there’s no person in the picture: Maybe that’s the chair the artist’s mother always sat in, and he’s painted it empty to convey his profound feeling of loss at her passing away?

Civil Inattention in Public Places: Normalising Unusual Events through Mobile and Embodied Practices. Forum: Qualitative social Research. Volume 13, No. 3, Art. 7 – September 2012. Source:

<more at; related links and articles: (Breaking the Fourth Wall of Cognitive Science. Real-World Social Attention and the Dual Function of Gaze. Evan F. Risko, Daniel C. Richardson and Alan Kingstone. Current Directions in Psychological Science, February 2016, vol. 25 no. 1, 70-74. doi: 10.1177/0963721415617806. [Abstract: Research in cognitive science typically places a boundary between participants and the stimuli they are asked to process. While this separation affords experimental control, it can also severely limit the generalizability of the conclusions that are drawn. Here, we review new evidence that some conclusions that have been drawn about social attention do not extend beyond the laboratory. They fundamentally misrepresent how social attention operates in natural social contexts. Critically, these difficulties have led to renewed interest in the dual function of gaze—when in authentic social situations, the eyes both collect information from the environment (an encoding function) and communicate one’s mental states to others (a signaling function)—which traditional social-attention paradigms arguably have failed to capture. We review this recent work and discuss the utility of adopting more naturalistic methods in cognitive science.] and (Social attention with real versus reel stimuli: toward an empirical approach to concerns about ecological validity. Evan F. Risko, Kaitlin E. W. Laidlaw, Megan Freeth, Tom Foulsham, and Alan Kingstone. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. 2012; 6: 143. [Abstract: Cognitive neuroscientists often study social cognition by using simple but socially relevant stimuli, such as schematic faces or images of other people. Whilst this research is valuable, important aspects of genuine social encounters are absent from these studies, a fact that has recently drawn criticism. In the present review we argue for an empirical approach to the determination of the equivalence of different social stimuli. This approach involves the systematic comparison of different types of social stimuli ranging in their approximation to a real social interaction. In garnering support for this cognitive ethological approach, we focus on recent research in social attention that has involved stimuli ranging from simple schematic faces to real social interactions. We highlight both meaningful similarities and differences in various social attentional phenomena across these different types of social stimuli thus validating the utility of the research initiative. Furthermore, we argue that exploring these similarities and differences will provide new insights into social cognition and social neuroscience.])>

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