Eye-movements, Attention, and Utility Accumulation During Brand Choice
50 Pages Posted: 29 Apr 2021
Date Written: February 04, 2019
This research tests the idea that the trajectories of attention and the accumulation of utility of the options in complex choice tasks are closely aligned, as implied by rational inattention theory. If supported, trajectories of attention would reflect higher-order preference formation processes, which are otherwise unobservable. To test the idea, we conducted an eye-tracking experiment with a representative sample of 324 consumers who chose one of five brands of smartphones. We estimated a new generalized Sequential Sampling Model to describe how trajectories of the quantity and three specific types of attention to brands (integration, comparison, and other) align with utility accumulation and choice.
Our findings extend rational inattention theory by revealing how, in particular, integration attention, accounts for brand choice already early on during the choice task, and that stickiness in choices arises from attention processes rather than from habits and mere inertia. These findings reveal the tight, potentially neurological, link between attention and utility, and have implications for consumer choice theory and practice.
Keywords: Attention and Brand Choice, Complex Decision-Making, Utility Accumulation, Eye-Tracking
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