Eye-tracking predicts decisions

Posted on December 24, 2018

A recent study made use of eye-tracking technology to investigate how people make decisions.

The study found that it is not simply a matter of longer looking time that determines which item we pick as previous research has suggested, but rather, our attention is skewed towards items that we already like or have a good impression of. In other words, if the item is something that we already hold a rather good impression or feeling about, more attention is likely to mean higher liking for the item; however, if the item is something that we have a rather neutral impression of, more attention is unlikely to result in higher liking.

This means that when faced with two valued choices, eye-tracking results may be able to predict what the individual would ultimately choose; a longer looking time at the less valued item (but that is still desirable) is likely to predict that the individual will override their initial preference and pick the item that was initially the “lesser” of the two.

Another finding from the study suggests that people make decisions faster when presented with two personally desirable choices as attention plays a larger factor in predicting which option individuals would go for.

The present study collected data from 228 participants across 6 eye-tracking studies. Participants rated their preference for over 100 different types of foods and these data were later presented as food pairs on a computer screen and participants were asked to judge which option of the two were more desirable at the present moment. Eye-tracking technology was incorporated by measuring participants’ attention before they made their decisions.

The results showed that it is not just attention that affected participants’ eventual decisions, but attention was a powerful predictor in predicting their decisions, over and above the ratings they gave.

This finding has practical implications in suggesting that marketing efforts will have bigger effects on items that consumers already like. When consumers are faced with multiple choices that they all like, packaging that is able to seize their attention may be the ultimate deciding factor that predicts which option they will go for.

However, the flipside of this suggestion would be that between two undesirable choices, the option that garners more attention would be less likely to get picked.

In conclusion, the present study presents new evidence that suggests the relationship between attention and choice is not as straightforward as previously thought.

Category(s):Compulsive Spending / Shopping, Other

Source material from Medical Xpress

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