The role of eye-gaze in understanding other minds

E. Pellicano, Gillian Rhodes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


From an early age, infants are sensitive to eye-gaze direction. This study examined Baron-Cohen's (1994, 1995) claim that the ability to use eye-gaze plays a crucial role in the child's developing understanding of other minds. Children aged 3 and 4 years participated in a face-reading task, which assessed their capacity to infer mental states from a character's direction of eye-gaze, and in a false-belief task. As predicted, no child passed the false-belief task without prior success on the face-reading task. However, contrary to a central claim within Baron-Cohen's model of mind-reading, presentation of an eye-gaze cue in the false-belief task did not enhance children's performance. Furthermore, children did not solely rely on eye-gaze as a cue, but used another directional cue (an arrow) in inferring a character's desire and intention. These results question the special role of eye-gaze in the child's developing ability to mind-read.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-43
JournalBritish Journal of Developmental Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2003


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