Looking at Nothing Indicates Memory Search in Multiattribute Decision Making


The common methods for studying heuristics in memory-based multiattribute decisions provide outcome and response time data but leave the foregoing cognitive processes in the dark. We demonstrate a novel process-tracing method that uses the looking-at-nothing phenomenon to study memory search and cue processing via eye tracking. Participants learned cue information of decision alternatives in spatial frames and later were presented with emptied displays of two alternatives in binary choice trials. With freely chosen and with instructed decision strategies, fixation patterns on former cue locations were in line with memory search and cue processing as postulated for lexicographic and compensatory strategies.

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