Helping children think: Gaze aversion and teaching

Fiona Phelps, Gwyneth Doherty-Sneddon, Hannah Warnock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)
33 Downloads (Pure)


Looking away from an interlocutor's face during demanding cognitive activity can help adults answer challenging arithmetic and verbal-reasoning questions (Glenberg, Schroeder, & Robertson, 1998). However, such `gaze aversion' (GA) is poorly applied by 5-year-old school children (Doherty-Sneddon, Bruce, Bonner, Longbotham, & Doyle, 2002). In Experiment 1 we trained ten 5-year-old children to use GA while thinking about answers to questions. This trained group performed significantly better on challenging questions compared with 10 controls given no GA training. In Experiment 2 we found significant and monotonic age-related increments in spontaneous use of GA across three cohorts of ten 5-year-old school children (mean ages: 5;02, 5;06 and 5;08). Teaching and encouraging GA during challenging cognitive activity promises to be invaluable in promoting learning, particularly during early primary years.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)577-588
JournalBritish Journal of Developmental Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2006


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