Humans spontaneously follow where others are looking. However, recent investigations suggest such gaze-following behavior during natural interactions occurs relatively infrequently, only in about a third of available instances. Here we investigated if a similar frequency of orienting is also found in laboratory tasks that measure covert attentional orienting using manual responses. To do so, in two experiments, we analyzed responses from a classic gaze cuing task, with arrow cues serving as control stimuli. We reasoned that the proportions of attentional benefits and costs, defined as responses falling outside of 1 standard deviation of the average performance for the neutral condition, would provide a good approximation of individual instances of attentional shifts. We found that although benefits and costs occurred in less than half of trials, benefits emerged on a greater proportion of validly cued relative to invalidly cued trials. This pattern of data held across two different measures of neutral performance, as assessed by Experiments 1 and 2, as well as across the two cue types. These results suggest that similarly to gaze-following in naturalistic settings, covert orienting within the cuing task also appears to occur relatively infrequently.
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