Attentional Over-Weighting in Gains, Attentional Under-Weighting in Losses
We encounter simple choices between positively valued options in our day-to-day lives (e.g., what to buy for dinner at the grocery store, which product we like on an e-commerce website). In these scenarios, previous studies have documented robust attentional choice biases (Eum et al., forthcoming; Fiedler & Glockner, 2012; Krajbich et al., 2010; Krajbich & Rangel, 2011; Smith & Krajbich, 2018) which manifest in behavior as last fixation bias (i.e., the tendency to choose the last fixated option), and net fixation bias (i.e., the tendency to choose the option with more relative fixation time). Recent evidence has shown that these attentional effects on choices are causal (Tavares et al., 2017).
However, we also encounter choices between negatively valued options (e.g., which credit card bill to pay off first, whether or not to pay for repairs on a car), which have not been studied using eye-tracking. It is unclear whether attention to a negatively valued option makes it relatively more or less appealing when one is forced to make a choice amongst negatively valued options. Here, we investigate whether attentional choice biases are similar in choices between gains and in choices between losses. Based on the Attentional Drift-Diffusion-Model (Krajbich et al., 2010), we hypothesized a bias towards choosing the more fixated option in gains, and against choosing the more fixated option in losses. This would imply that attention to an option in a choice between losses makes it relatively less appealing. To preview the results, we find evidence of a bias towards choosing the more fixated option, regardless of condition. This instead implies that attention to an option in a choice between losses makes it relatively more appealing.