Eye tracking in an everyday environment reveals the interpersonal distance that affords infant-parent gaze communication

Hiroki Yamamoto, Atsushi Sato, Shoji Itakura
2019 Scientific Reports  
The unique morphology of human eyes enables gaze communication at various ranges of interpersonal distance. Although gaze communication contributes to infants' social development, little is known about how infant-parent distance affects infants' visual experience in daily gaze communication. The present study conducted longitudinal observations of infant-parent face-to-face interactions in the home environment as 5 infants aged from 10 to 15.5 months. Using head-mounted eye trackers worn by
more » ... nts, we evaluated infants' daily visual experience of 3138 eye contact scenes recorded from the infants' second-person perspective. The results of a hierarchical Bayesian statistical analysis suggest that certain levels of interpersonal distance afforded smooth interaction with eye contact. Eye contacts were not likely to be exchanged when the infant and parent were too close or too far apart. The number of continuing eye contacts showed an inverse U-shaped pattern with interpersonal distance, regardless of whether the eye contact was initiated by the infant or the parent. However, the interpersonal distance was larger when the infant initiated the eye contact than when the parent initiated it, suggesting that interpersonal distance affects the infant's and parent's social look differently. Overall, the present study indicates that interpersonal distance modulates infant-parent gaze communication.
doi:10.1038/s41598-019-46650-6 pmid:31316101 pmcid:PMC6637119 fatcat:e7uod6lz7rdnxkbmvtwap6jwmy