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Biasing simple choices by manipulating relative visual attention


  • K. Carrie Armel
  • Aurelie Beaumel
  • Antonio Rangel


Several decision-making models predict that it should be possible to affect real binary choices by manipulating the relative amount of visual attention that decision-makers pay to the two alternatives. We present the results of three behavioral experiments testing this prediction. Visual attention is controlled by manipulating the amount of time subjects fixate on the two items. The manipulation has a differential impact on appetitive and aversive items. Appetitive items are 6 to 11\% more likely to be chosen in the long fixation condition. In contrast, aversive items are 7\% less likely to be chosen in the long fixation condition. The effect is present for primary goods, such as foods, and for higher-order durable goods, such as posters.

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  • K. Carrie Armel & Aurelie Beaumel & Antonio Rangel, 2008. "Biasing simple choices by manipulating relative visual attention," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 3, pages 396-403, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:jdm:journl:v:3:y:2008:i::p:396-403

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Busemeyer, Jerome R. & Diederich, Adele, 2002. "Survey of decision field theory," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 43(3), pages 345-370, July.
    2. K. Carrie Armel & Antonio Rangel, 2008. "The Impact of Computation Time and Experience on Decision Values," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 163-168, May.
    3. Weber, Elke U & Kirsner, Britt, 1997. "Reasons for Rank-Dependent Utility Evaluation," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 14(1), pages 41-61, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. DeKay, Michael L. & Miller, Seth A. & Schley, Dan R. & Erford, Breann M., 2014. "Proleader and antitrailer information distortion and their effects on choice and postchoice memory," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 125(2), pages 134-150.
    2. Elena Reutskaja & Rosemarie Nagel & Colin F. Camerer & Antonio Rangel, 2011. "Search Dynamics in Consumer Choice under Time Pressure: An Eye-Tracking Study," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(2), pages 900-926, April.
    3. Alessandro Innocenti & Alessandra Rufa & Jacopo Semmoloni, 2008. "Cognitive Biases and Gaze Direction: An Experimental Study," Labsi Experimental Economics Laboratory University of Siena 022, University of Siena.
    4. Nathaniel J. S. Ashby & Stephan Dickert & Andreas Glockner, 2012. "Focusing on what you own: Biased information uptake due to ownership," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 7(3), pages 254-267, May.
    5. Hu, Yingyao & Kayaba, Yutaka & Shum, Matthew, 2013. "Nonparametric learning rules from bandit experiments: The eyes have it!," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 81(C), pages 215-231.
    6. Nathaniel J.S. Ashby & Lukasz Walasek & Andreas Glöckner, 2015. "The effect of consumer ratings and attentional allocation on product valuations," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 10(2), pages 172-184, March.
    7. Caplin, Andrew & Dean, Mark, 2011. "Search, choice, and revealed preference," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 6(1), January.
    8. Tatevik Mkrtchyan, 2016. "Modern Transformations of Economics: Neuroeconomics," Theory Methodology Practice (TMP), Faculty of Economics, University of Miskolc, vol. 12(02), pages 15-24.
    9. Guala, Francesco & Mittone, Luigi, 2010. "How history and convention create norms: An experimental study," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 749-756, August.
    10. Enrico Rubaltelli & Stephan Dickert & Paul Slovic, 2012. "Response mode, compatibility, and dual-processes in the evaluation of simple gambles: An eye-tracking investigation," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 7(4), pages 427-440, July.


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