Paola Ricciardelli, Lucia Riggio

Interpaly between social context and attention

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: selective attention, automatic orienting, central and peripheral cues, social context.

A fundamental aspect of cognition is selection. Selection has been extensively studied within mainstream laboratory-based attention research. However, in order to act in a social environment selection not only concerns stimuli or objects but also, and mainly, the behaviour of other individuals and their social signals. Recent research has shown the importance of social cues like gaze direction, reaching responses and so on, revealing reciprocal relations between spatial attention and social interaction. In particular, the social and biological relevance reflected by different cues proved to be a critical variable that can explain and go beyond the classical distinction between automatic and voluntary attention related to the spatial location of the cues. Moreover new selection processes appear to emerge only in social contexts and cannot be investigated when studying individuals in isolation. This means that for a complete understanding of attention and, in general terms, of human cognition, it is necessary to take into account performance of individuals in groups. On the other hand, exploiting the methods of attention research should shed new light on the nature of the mechanisms underlying social cognition, thus bridging the gap between labbased investigations and real-life situations.

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