ABSTRACT

One of the salient features of other persons in our social world is the action and focus of their eyes. The direction of another's gaze, which seems to indicate something about his or her orientation or focus of attention, may have significance for us and the organization of our own actions, particularly if we happen to be the target of these two distinctive orbs. But others are not invulnerable to the same scrutiny from us and likely will make similar adjustments depending on what they infer about our intentions, based in part on the presence or absence of our apparent attention to them. Whether in a public or private setting, the action of the eyes seems to play an important role in the organization of social behavior. It is with the extensive research literature focused on this apparently simple act that this chapter is concerned. The research is reviewed and a conceptual framework presented, based on a semiotic/structuralist approach to communication, within which the findings are organized. This review draws upon, refers to, and hopefully extends other reviews that have appeared during the last 10 to 15 years (Argyle & Cook, 1976; von Cranach, 1971; Ellsworth, 1975; Ellsworth & Ludwig, 1972; Harper, Wiens, & Matarazzo, 1978; Vine, 1970).