Averting the gaze disengages the environment and facilitates remembering

Arthur M. Glenberg, Jennifer L. Schroeder, David A. Robertson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

194 Scopus citations

Abstract

When people are asked moderately difficult questions, they often avert their gazes. We report five experiments in which we documented this phenomenon. They demonstrate that (1) the frequency of gaze aversion is related to the difficulty of cognitive processing, (2) this behavior cannot be due solely to demand characteristics or embarrassment, and (3) the behavior is functional: Averting the gaze improves performance. We speculate that averting the gaze helps people to disengage from environmental stimulation and thereby enhances the efficiency of cognitive processing directed by nonenvironmental stimulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)651-658
Number of pages8
JournalMemory and Cognition
Volume26
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1998

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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