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Appears in Collections:Psychology Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Development of gaze aversion: qualitiative changes over the early school years
Author(s): Doherty-Sneddon, Gwyneth
Phelps, Fiona
Clark, Julia
Keywords: Gaze aversion
Child Development
Cognitive load
Gaze (Psychology)
Learning, Psychology of
Child development
Problem-solving in children
Attention in children
Issue Date: Nov-2007
Date Deposited: 9-Jun-2008
Citation: Doherty-Sneddon G, Phelps F & Clark J (2007) Development of gaze aversion: qualitiative changes over the early school years. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 25 (4), pp. 513-526.
Abstract: Looking away from an interlocutors’ face during demanding cognitive activity can help adults and children answer challenging mental arithmetic and verbal-reasoning questions (Glenberg, Schroeder, & Robertson, 1998; Phelps, Doherty-Sneddon & Warnock, in press). Whilst such ‘gaze aversion’ (GA) is used far less by 5-year old school children, its use increases dramatically during the first years of primary education, reaching adult levels by 8-years of age (Doherty-Sneddon, Bruce, Bonner, Longbotham, & Doyle, 2002). The current study investigates whether developmental changes also occur in a qualitative aspect of GA - the direction of movement involved in GA shifts. Video data from 18 5-year-olds and 19 8-year-olds answering verbal and arithmetic questions were analysed for direction of GA. We found very different profiles of direction of GA across the two ages: whilst the 5-year-olds used predominantly rapid multi-directional ‘flicking’ movements and some sustained left lateral movements, the 8-year-olds used predominantly sustained rightward movements. It is concluded that, as well as quantitative increases in the use of GA across these age groups, there are concomitant qualitative changes in the nature of GA shifts. A model of human attention in face-to-face interaction is discussed as are implications for the assessment of children’s learning and development.
DOI Link: 10.1348/026151006X172018
Rights: This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Doherty‐Sneddon, G. , Phelps, F. and Clark, J. (2007), Development of gaze aversion: Qualitative changes over the early school years. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 25: 513-526, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.

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