Race, power, and reflexive gaze following

Max Weisbuch, Kristin Pauker, Reginald B. Adams, Sarah A. Lamer, Nalini Ambady

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Observing shifts in others’ eye gaze causes perceivers to shift their own attention in the same direction, and such gaze following has been regarded as reflexive. We hypothesized that effects of social hierarchy on reflexive gaze following are driven largely by power asymmetries. We used a standard gaze-cuing paradigm with 100 and 300 ms stimulus onset asynchronies. In Study 1, we compared gazers with a historically privileged social identity (European American/“White”) to gazers with a historically underprivileged social identity (African American/“Black”). White gazers elicited gaze following from both White and Black perceivers, whereas Black gazers only elicited gaze following from Black perceivers. In Study 2, we examined the role of perceiver power in these effects by experimentally manipulating felt power. White gazers elicited gaze following from both high-power and low-power White perceivers whereas Black gazers only elicited gaze following from low-power White perceivers. These results suggest that felt power may play a key role in stratified and interracial gaze following.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)619-638
Number of pages20
JournalSocial Cognition
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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