The combined effect of gaze direction and facial expression on cueing spatial attention.Emotion. 2008 Oct; 8(5):628-34.E
Empirical evidence shows an effect of gaze direction on cueing spatial attention, regardless of the emotional expression shown by a face, whereas a combined effect of gaze direction and facial expression has been observed on individuals' evaluative judgments. In 2 experiments, the authors investigated whether gaze direction and facial expression affect spatial attention depending upon the presence of an evaluative goal. Disgusted, fearful, happy, or neutral faces gazing left or right were followed by positive or negative target words presented either at the spatial location looked at by the face or at the opposite spatial location. Participants responded to target words based on affective valence (i.e., positive/negative) in Experiment 1 and on letter case (lowercase/uppercase) in Experiment 2. Results showed that participants responded much faster to targets presented at the spatial location looked at by disgusted or fearful faces but only in Experiment 1, when an evaluative task was used. The present findings clearly show that negative facial expressions enhance the attentional shifts due to eye-gaze direction, provided that there was an explicit evaluative goal present.