TANGO: A reliable, open-source, browser-based task to assess individual differences in gaze understanding in 3 to 5-year-old children and adults

Research output: Journal contributionsJournal articlesResearchpeer-review


Traditional measures of social cognition used in developmental research often lack satisfactory psychometric properties and are not designed to capture variation between individuals. Here, we present the TANGO (Task for Assessing iNdividual differences in Gaze understanding-Open); a brief (approx. 5–10min), reliable, open-source task to quantify individual differences in the understanding of gaze cues. Localizing the attentional focus of an agent is crucial in inferring their mental states, building common ground, and thus, supporting cooperation. Our interactive browser-based task works across devices and enables in-person and remote testing. The implemented spatial layout allows for discrete and continuous measures of participants’ click imprecision and is easily adaptable to different study requirements. Our task measures inter-individual differences in a child (N = 387) and an adult (N = 236) sample. Our two study versions and data collection modes yield comparable results that show substantial developmental gains: the older children are, the more accurately they locate the target. High internal consistency and test–retest reliability estimates underline that the captured variation is systematic. Associations with social-environmental factors and language skills speak to the validity of the task. This work shows a promising way forward in studying individual differences in social cognition and will help us explore the structure and development of our core social-cognitive processes in greater detail.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBehavior Research Methods
Number of pages17
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10.07.2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Open Access funding enabled and organized by Projekt DEAL. This study was funded by the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science, a noncommercial, publicly financed scientific organization (no grant number). We thank all the children, caregivers, and adults who participated in the study. We thank Jana Jurkat for her help with data collection.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s).

    Research areas

  • Psychology - Social cognition, Individual differences, Gaze cues, Cognitive development