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Biasing moral decisions by exploiting the dynamics of eye gaze

Pärnamets, Philip LU ; Johansson, Petter LU ; Hall, Lars LU ; Balkenius, Christian LU ; Spivey, Michael J. and Richardson, Daniel C. (2015) In Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112(13). p.4170-4175
Abstract
Eye gaze is a window onto cognitive processing in tasks such as spatial memory, linguistic processing, and decision making. We present evidence that information derived from eye gaze can be used to change the course of individuals’ decisions, even when they are reasoning about high-level, moral issues. Previous studies have shown that when an experimenter actively controls what an individual sees the experimenter can affect simple decisions with alternatives of almost equal valence. Here we show that if an experimenter passively knows when individuals move their eyes the experimenter can change complex moral decisions. This causal effect is achieved by simply adjusting the timing of the decisions. We monitored participants’ eye movements... (More)
Eye gaze is a window onto cognitive processing in tasks such as spatial memory, linguistic processing, and decision making. We present evidence that information derived from eye gaze can be used to change the course of individuals’ decisions, even when they are reasoning about high-level, moral issues. Previous studies have shown that when an experimenter actively controls what an individual sees the experimenter can affect simple decisions with alternatives of almost equal valence. Here we show that if an experimenter passively knows when individuals move their eyes the experimenter can change complex moral decisions. This causal effect is achieved by simply adjusting the timing of the decisions. We monitored participants’ eye movements during a two-alternative forced-choice task with moral questions. One option was randomly predetermined as a target. At the moment participants had fixated the target option for a set amount of time we terminated their deliberation and prompted them to choose between the two alternatives. Although participants were unaware of this gaze-contingent manipulation, their choices were systematically biased toward the target option. We conclude that even abstract moral cognition is partly constituted by interactions with the immediate environment and is likely supported by gaze-dependent decision processes. By tracking the interplay between individuals, their sensorimotor systems, and the environment, we can influence the outcome of a decision without directly manipulating the content of the information available to them. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
morality, decision making, eye tracking, visual attention, dynamical systems
in
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
volume
112
issue
13
pages
4170 - 4175
publisher
National Acad Sciences
external identifiers
  • pmid:25775604
  • wos:000351914500086
  • scopus:84926059448
ISSN
1091-6490
DOI
10.1073/pnas.1415250112
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
a415777c-aafa-4b3d-9f1e-56cba8a222e2 (old id 5147058)
date added to LUP
2015-03-02 15:05:53
date last changed
2017-11-19 03:01:26
@article{a415777c-aafa-4b3d-9f1e-56cba8a222e2,
  abstract     = {Eye gaze is a window onto cognitive processing in tasks such as spatial memory, linguistic processing, and decision making. We present evidence that information derived from eye gaze can be used to change the course of individuals’ decisions, even when they are reasoning about high-level, moral issues. Previous studies have shown that when an experimenter actively controls what an individual sees the experimenter can affect simple decisions with alternatives of almost equal valence. Here we show that if an experimenter passively knows when individuals move their eyes the experimenter can change complex moral decisions. This causal effect is achieved by simply adjusting the timing of the decisions. We monitored participants’ eye movements during a two-alternative forced-choice task with moral questions. One option was randomly predetermined as a target. At the moment participants had fixated the target option for a set amount of time we terminated their deliberation and prompted them to choose between the two alternatives. Although participants were unaware of this gaze-contingent manipulation, their choices were systematically biased toward the target option. We conclude that even abstract moral cognition is partly constituted by interactions with the immediate environment and is likely supported by gaze-dependent decision processes. By tracking the interplay between individuals, their sensorimotor systems, and the environment, we can influence the outcome of a decision without directly manipulating the content of the information available to them.},
  author       = {Pärnamets, Philip and Johansson, Petter and Hall, Lars and Balkenius, Christian and Spivey, Michael J. and Richardson, Daniel C.},
  issn         = {1091-6490},
  keyword      = {morality,decision making,eye tracking,visual attention,dynamical systems},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {13},
  pages        = {4170--4175},
  publisher    = {National Acad Sciences},
  series       = {Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences},
  title        = {Biasing moral decisions by exploiting the dynamics of eye gaze},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1415250112},
  volume       = {112},
  year         = {2015},
}