Attention-based choice: A mere looking effect
Selective attention is considered a key construct in decision making, but studies have not manipulated attention outside of awareness and independent of participant goals. In four studies using disparate decision paradigms, incidental attention manipulations produced “mere looking” at information. A new kind of preference reversal emerged, with covert spatialattention manipulations (caused by the presentation of normatively irrelevant Arabic integers) and overt manipulations (arrows and order effects) altering the first information encountered and the subsequent stream of information processing. That the attentional effects of conventional, over-learned symbols can influence choices – a “mere looking” effect – suggests a strong link between visual attention and choice. Further exploration of this relation is likely to enhance understanding of the basic mechanisms underlying human decision making.