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Heuristics and criterion setting during selective encoding in visual decision making: Evidence from eye movements

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When making a decision, people spend longer looking at the option they ultimately choose compared to other options—termed the gaze bias effect—even during their first encounter with the options (Glaholt & Reingold, 2009a, 2009b; Schotter, Berry, McKenzie & Rayner, 2010). Schotter et al. (2010) suggested that this is because people selectively encode decision-relevant information about the options, online during the first encounter with them. To extend their findings and test this claim, we recorded subjects' eye movements as they made judgements about pairs of images (i.e., which one was taken more recently or which one was taken longer ago). We manipulated whether both images were presented in the same colour content (e.g., both in colour or both in black-and-white) or whether they differed in colour content and the extent to which colour content was a reliable cue to relative recentness of the images. We found that the magnitude of the gaze bias effect decreased when the colour content cue was not reliable during the first encounter with the images, but no modulation of the gaze bias effect in remaining time on the trial. These data suggest people do selectively encode decision-relevant information online.

Keywords: Decision making; Eye movements; Gaze bias; Heuristics; Selective encoding

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of California, San Diego,CA, USA

Publication date: October 1, 2012


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