Obama proves the centre of attention

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THE appeal of US President Barack Obama has been underlined by a new study from Edinburgh University researchers, which monitored the reaction of people watching his inauguration.

The study tracked the eye movements of viewers watching highlights of the ceremony, and found that they could not take their eyes off the president for almost the entire programme.

Psychologists found that, despite potential distractions such as the presence of Obama's presidential rival John McCain, and the president's family, viewers' eyes were locked on President Obama's face.

They only glanced away from him twice, once when they briefly shifted their attention to Chief Justice Roberts, as he made a mistake while leading Obama in the Oath of Office.

Researchers say that this shows that no matter how strong the interest in a subject, viewers will often home in on human error.

Professor John Henderson, of the University of Edinburgh's School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences, who led the research said: "People's eye movements are a tell-tale sign of where their attention lies. We thought Obama's inauguration would be an ideal chance to observe this process."

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