Does eye-tracking have an effect on economic behavior? Academic Article uri icon


  • Eye-tracking is becoming an increasingly popular tool for understanding the underlying behavior driving human decisions. However, an important unanswered methodological question is whether the use of an eye-tracking device itself induces changes in participants' behavior. We study this question using eight popular games in experimental economics chosen for their varying levels of theorized susceptibility to social desirability bias. We implement a simple between-subject design where participants are randomly assigned to either a control or an eye-tracking treatment. In seven of the eight games, eye-tracking did not produce different outcomes. In the Holt and Laury risk assessment (HL), subjects with multiple calibration attempts demonstrated more risk averse behavior in eye-tracking conditions. However, this effect only appeared during the first five (of ten) rounds. Because calibration difficulty is correlated with eye-tracking data quality, the standard practice of removing participants with low eye-tracking data quality resulted in no difference between the treatment and control groups in HL. Our results suggest that experiments may incorporate eye-tracking equipment without inducing changes in the economic behavior of participants, particularly after observations with low quality eye-tracking data are removed.

published proceedings

  • PLoS One

author list (cited authors)

  • Kee, J., Knuth, M., Lahey, J. N., & Palma, M. A.

complete list of authors

  • Kee, Jennifer||Knuth, Melinda||Lahey, Joanna N||Palma, Marco A

editor list (cited editors)

  • BraƱas-Garza, P.

publication date

  • January 1, 2021 11:11 AM