Forward-facing predators attract attention in humans (Homo sapiens)
Journal of Comparative Psychology
Even prey that successfully evade attack incur costs when responding to predators. These nonlethal costs can impact their reproductive success and survival. One strategy that prey can use to minimize these costs is to adjust their antipredator behavior based on the perceived level of risk. We tested whether humans adopt this strategy by presenting participants with photographic arrays of predators (lions) that varied in their level of risk. While their eye movements were recorded, the
... ts searched for a forwardfacing predator (signifying potential predator interest; high-risk target) among an array of inattentive predators that were facing away (low-risk distractors) or searched for a predator that was facing away from them among an array of forward-facing predators. As a control, participants also searched through similar arrays that displayed a potential prey species (impalas) rather than predators. Participants detected forward-facing predators more quickly than predators facing away from them. Unexpectedly, they were also quicker at detecting forward-facing prey versus prey facing away from them, but slower to detect these forward-facing prey compared with forward-facing predators. They were slower to detect predators and prey facing away from them because they spent more time looking at the forward-facing distractors and looked at more of those distractors. The results indicate that human attention is drawn toward dangerous predators with forward-facing orientations, and this could allow humans to quickly assess predator intentions.