Development of gaze aversion as disengagement from visual information.

Gwyneth Doherty-Sneddon, Vicki Bruce, L. Bonner, S. Longbotham, C. Doyle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

119 Citations (Scopus)


Older children, but not younger children, were found to look away more from the face of an interlocutor when answering difficult as opposed to easy questions. Similar results were found in earlier work with adults, who often avert their gaze during cognitively difficult tasks (A. M. Glenberg, J. L. Schroeder, & D. A. Robertson, 1998). Twenty-five 8-year-olds and 26 5-year-olds answered verbal reasoning and arithmetic questions of varying difficulty. The older children increased gaze aversion from the face of the adult questioner in response to both difficult verbal reasoning questions and difficult arithmetic questions. In contrast, younger children (5-year-olds) responded less consistently to cognitive difficulty. It is concluded that adultlike patterns of gaze aversion in response to cognitive difficulty are certainly acquired by 8 years of age. The implications of appropriate gaze aversion for children's management of cognitive processing resources are considered.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)438-445
JournalDevelopmental Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2002


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