Insights into decisions from neuroscience and choice experiments: The effect of eye movements on choice

Barbara E. Kahn, Jordan J. Louviere, Claudia Townsend, Chelsea Wise

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Discrete Choice Experiment (DCE) research has predominately been used to observe choice outcomes. However a better understanding of the underlying choice process can help improve our ability to predict choices. Prior work examining choice processes has traditionally used methods such as concurrent or retrospective reporting (verbal protocols), information boards, mouse-tracing methods, or eye-tracking and click stream analysis in computer-based environments. However, these methods face issues of internal and external validity. For example, concurrent reporting consumes mental resources and forces serial processing, limiting external validity. Moreover, many of these measures are unable to capture emotional or automated processes, base state (engagement), or conviction, resulting in compromised internal validity. Thus, there is a need for a better process measurement system for experimental decision making environments that offers both externally and internally valid data. We proffer that the combination of eye-tracking measures and discrete choice experiments fulfills that need. Eye-tracking has been used to study decision processes in various tasks including probabilistic inference, risky decisions, and advertisements. Indeed, if visual attention and eye movements are coupled, attentional shifts should be related to changes and patterns of eye movements (Hoffman 1998; Rayner 1998). However, eye-tracking observes only information acquisition behavior and not internal cognitive processes. Instead, one must infer underlying cognitive strategies from eye-tracking data. Alternatively, process may be inferred through the experimental design by maximizing the resultant statistical information on cognitive factors influencing choice. For example, choice experiments (Louviere and Woodworth 1983) using full factorial designs allow one to infer certain types of decision rules (Anderson 1971). In this paper we use eye-tracking measures in discrete choice experiments to exploit the benefits these methods offer in understanding preference and choice processing. The broad purpose of our research is to identify empirical generalizations that can be integrated with neuroscience and other literatures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)774-775
Number of pages2
JournalAdvances in Consumer Research
StatePublished - Dec 1 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Marketing


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