Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Researchers have reported that when people are asked a question requiring reflection, they frequently look briefly to one side or the other before answering. The direction of this reflective eye movement has been shown to be a reliable individual characteristic and has been related to various physiological, intellectual, and personality characteristics. Recent reflective eye movement research has focused more specifically on the relationship between gaze shift directionality and cerebral hemispheric functioning. Results of these studies suggest that direction of eye movements is related to the cognitive content of the reflective questions. However, inconsistencies seem to exist between what the various researchers suggest to be the nature of this relationship. After reviewing the findings of these studies, it was apparent that considerable differences in methodological approaches and interpretations of results could account for these inconsistencies. Therefore, the purpose of the present research was to develop a standardized reflective eye movement questionnaire and procedure for its administration which would provide a set of questions that would reliably elicit lateral eye movements (left, right), and non-lateral eye movements (up, down, stare).

In Experiment I, 27 female and 24 male right-handed subjects were individually administered a 125 item questionnaire by one of six trained interviewers. The questionnaire consisted of representative items from each of 18 subcategories of question types and was developed from both original items as well as items utilized in other reflective eye movement research. During the face-to-face interview, the interviewer recorded the subject's initial eye movement response following the completion of each question. Valid eye movements were scored diagrammatically as either lateral or as non-lateral. On the basis of the individual responses per question, the results of this experiment indicated that only questions eliciting lateral movements met the selection criteria for inclusion in the final questionnaire. The category distribution of the 22 items selected as strong left or right movement questions did not support the assumption that functional differences in the hemispheres would be reflected in the direction of eye movements elicited by a particular question type. Consequently, the value of these sets of items as an instrument for assessing reflective eye movements was questioned.

Experiment II was designed to assess the reliability of the 11 right movement items and the 11 left movement items selected in Experiment I. Utilizing the same procedures as in the previous experiment, 15 male and 15 female right-handed subjects were administered the 22 item questionnaire. The results indicated a very low correlation between the directions of gaze shifts produced by the questions in the previous experiment and those produced by the same questions in this experiment. Consequently, these findings raise considerable doubt as to the reliability of the eye movement phenomenon itself as well as to its usefulness as a tool for indicating differential hemispheric functioning were substantiated.

Possible explanations for the findings of these two studies were discussed.