The power of attention: Using eye gaze to predict other-regarding and moral choices

Susann Fiedler, Minou Ghaffari

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review


According to research studying the processes underlying decisions, a two-channel mechanism connects attention and choices: top-down and bottom-up processes. To identify the magnitude of each channel, we exogenously varied information intake by systematically interrupting participants’ decision processes in Study 1 (N = 116). Results showed that participants were more likely to choose a predetermined target option. Because selection effects limited the interpretation of the results, we used a sequential-presentation paradigm in Study 2 (preregistered, N = 100). To partial out bottom-up effects of attention on choices, in particular, we presented alternatives by mirroring the gaze patterns of autonomous decision makers. Results revealed that final fixations successfully predicted choices when experimentally manipulated (bottom up). Specifically, up to 11.32% of the link between attention and choices is driven by exogenously guided attention (1.19% change in choices overall), while the remaining variance is explained by top-down preference formation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1878 - 1889
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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