Recent research has begun to explore not just the spatial distribution of eye fixations but also the temporal dynamics of how we look at the world. In this investigation, we assess how scene characteristics contribute to these fixation dynamics. In a free-viewing task, participants viewed three scene types: fractal, landscape, and social scenes. We used a relatively new method, recurrence quantification analysis (RQA), to quantify eye movement dynamics. RQA revealed that eye movement dynamics were dependent on the scene type viewed. To understand the underlying cause for these differences we applied a technique known as fractal analysis and discovered that complexity and clutter are two scene characteristics that affect fixation dynamics, but only in scenes with meaningful content. Critically, scene primitives-revealed by saliency analysis-had no impact on performance. In addition, we explored how RQA differs from the first half of the trial to the second half, as well as the potential to investigate the precision of fixation targeting by changing RQA radius values. Collectively, our results suggest that eye movement dynamics result from topdown viewing strategies that vary according to the meaning of a scene and its associated visual complexity and clutter. © 2014 ARVO.