The Science of Social Vision

Reginald Adams, Jr., Nalini Ambady, Ken Nakayama, Shinsuke Shimojo

Research output: Book/ReportBook

80 Citations (SciVal)


The human visual system is particularly attuned to and remarkably efficient at processing social cues. We can effectively "read" others' mental and emotional states and make snap judgments about their characters and dispositions, simply by watching them. Given what is clearly a close relationship between vision and social interaction, it has become increasingly clear to social psychologists seeking to understand better the functional and neuroanatomical mechanisms underlying social perception that vision plays a critical role in the development and maintenance of social exchange. Likewise, vision scientists have come to appreciate the profound impact people, as social agents, have had on the visual system, acknowledging just how important it is to consider the socially adaptive functions that system evolved to perform. This book explores the biologically-determined to the culturally-shaped influences on social vision. Four themes emerge. These include: visually mediated attention moderates complex social interactions and plays a critical role in the development of social cognition; visual features perceptually determine categorical thinking and have profound downstream consequences including stereotype activation; perceptual experiences can be directly triggered by visual cues, in which case, visual and social perception are essentially equivalent processes; and social factors exert powerful top-down influences on even low-level visual perception, at some times biasing, while at others fine-tuning perceptual acuity. This book heralds the new field of social vision, and showcases the cutting edge and broadly interdisciplinary research that is currently at its forefront.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages504
ISBN (Electronic)9780199864324
ISBN (Print)9780195333176
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'The Science of Social Vision'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this