Abstract: Although there has been recent growing interest in the associations between measures of visual attention and consumer choice, there is still uncertainty about the role of the first fixation in consumer choice and the factors that drive total fixation duration. The study aimed (1) to investigate the influence of the first fixation on consumer choice, and (2) to disentangle two factors driving total fixation duration, namely preference formation (the process of establishing a preference for one of the items of the choice set) and the decision goal (task instruction). Participants chose between two products while their eye movements were measured. To investigate the influence of first fixation location on choice, first fixation location was manipulated in half of the trials. To disentangle effects of preference formation and the decision goal, participants selected either the product they wanted, or the product they did not want. Our findings showed that manipulating the first fixation towards an alternative did not influence its likelihood of being chosen. Although total fixation duration was mainly determined by the decision goal, it was also influenced by preference formation. The results provide important implications for the interpretation of eye tracking results and in-store marketing.
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