Relative visual saliency differences induce sizable bias in consumer choice

Milica Milosavljevic, Vidhya Navalpakkam, Christof Koch, Antonio Rangel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

189 Scopus citations


Consumers often need to make very rapid choices among multiple brands (e.g., at a supermarket shelf) that differ both in their reward value (e.g., taste) and in their visual properties (e.g., color and brightness of the packaging). Since the visual properties of stimuli are known to influence visual attention, and attention is known to influence choices, this gives rise to a potential visual saliency bias in choices. We utilize experimental design from visual neuroscience in three real food choice experiments to measure the size of the visual saliency bias and how it changes with decision speed and cognitive load. Our results show that at rapid decision speeds visual saliency influences choices more than preferences do, that the bias increases with cognitive load, and that it is particularly strong when individuals do not have strong preferences among the options.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-74
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Consumer Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012


  • Attention
  • Consumer choice
  • Decision making
  • Packaging
  • Reward
  • Visual saliency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Marketing


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