Do we look at persons currently or previously affected by COVID-19 the same way as we do with healthy ones? In this eye-tracking study, we investigated how participants (N = 54) looked at faces of individuals presented as “COVID-19 Free”, “Sick with COVID-19”, or “Recovered from COVID-19”. Results showed that participants tend to look at the eyes of COVID-19-free faces longer than at those of both COVID-19- related faces. Crucially, we also found an increase of visual attention for the mouth of the COVID-19-related faces, possibly due to the threatening characterisation of such area as a transmission vehicle for SARS-CoV-2. Thus, by detailing how people dynamically changed the way of looking at faces as a function of the perceived risk of contagion, we provide the first evidence in the literature about the impact of the pandemic on the most basic level of social interaction.

How the fear of COVID-19 changed the way we look at human faces

Giovanni Federico
Conceptualization
;
Maria Brandimonte
Supervision
2021

Abstract

Do we look at persons currently or previously affected by COVID-19 the same way as we do with healthy ones? In this eye-tracking study, we investigated how participants (N = 54) looked at faces of individuals presented as “COVID-19 Free”, “Sick with COVID-19”, or “Recovered from COVID-19”. Results showed that participants tend to look at the eyes of COVID-19-free faces longer than at those of both COVID-19- related faces. Crucially, we also found an increase of visual attention for the mouth of the COVID-19-related faces, possibly due to the threatening characterisation of such area as a transmission vehicle for SARS-CoV-2. Thus, by detailing how people dynamically changed the way of looking at faces as a function of the perceived risk of contagion, we provide the first evidence in the literature about the impact of the pandemic on the most basic level of social interaction.
COVID-19, Pandemic, Human faces, Eye contact, Visual attention, Social interaction, Social cognition, Eye-tracking, Face processing, Social brain
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12570/26211
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