How information availability interacts with visual attention during judgment and decision tasks

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T1 - How information availability interacts with visual attention during judgment and decision tasks

AU - Pärnamets, Philip

AU - Johansson, Roger

AU - Gidlöf, Kerstin

AU - Wallin, Annika

PY - 2016

Y1 - 2016

N2 - Decisions in front of a supermarket shelf probably involve a mix of visually available information and associated memories – and interactions between those two. Several cognitive processes, such as decision-making, search and various judgments, are therefore likely to co-occur, and each process will influence visual attention. We conducted two eye-tracking experiments capturing parts of these features by having participants make either judgments or decisions concerning products that had been previously encoded. Half the time participants made their choices with full information about the available products and half the time with crucial task-relevant information removed. By comparing participants’ use of visual attention during decisions and search- and memory-based judgments, respectively, we can better understand how visual attention is differently employed between tasks and how it depends on the visual environment. We found that participants’ visual attention during decisions is sensitive to evaluations already made during encoding and strongly characterized by preferential looking to the options later to be chosen. When the task environment is rich enough, participants engage in advanced integrative visual behavior and improve their decision quality. In contrast, visual attention during judgments made on the same products reflects a search-like behavior when all information is available and a more focused type of visual behavior when information is removed. Our findings contribute not only to the literature on how visual attention is used during decision-making but also to methodological questions concerning how to measure and identify task-specific features of visual attention in ecologically valid ways.

AB - Decisions in front of a supermarket shelf probably involve a mix of visually available information and associated memories – and interactions between those two. Several cognitive processes, such as decision-making, search and various judgments, are therefore likely to co-occur, and each process will influence visual attention. We conducted two eye-tracking experiments capturing parts of these features by having participants make either judgments or decisions concerning products that had been previously encoded. Half the time participants made their choices with full information about the available products and half the time with crucial task-relevant information removed. By comparing participants’ use of visual attention during decisions and search- and memory-based judgments, respectively, we can better understand how visual attention is differently employed between tasks and how it depends on the visual environment. We found that participants’ visual attention during decisions is sensitive to evaluations already made during encoding and strongly characterized by preferential looking to the options later to be chosen. When the task environment is rich enough, participants engage in advanced integrative visual behavior and improve their decision quality. In contrast, visual attention during judgments made on the same products reflects a search-like behavior when all information is available and a more focused type of visual behavior when information is removed. Our findings contribute not only to the literature on how visual attention is used during decision-making but also to methodological questions concerning how to measure and identify task-specific features of visual attention in ecologically valid ways.

KW - visual memory

KW - visual attention

KW - transitions

KW - preferential looking

KW - eye movements

KW - decision-making

U2 - 10.1002/bdm.1902

DO - 10.1002/bdm.1902

M3 - Article

VL - 29

SP - 218

EP - 231

JO - Journal of Behavioral Decision Making

JF - Journal of Behavioral Decision Making

SN - 1099-0771

IS - 2-3

ER -