Where people look while making a decision is an indicator of their thought processes. Given the choice between a candy bar and potato chips, if you look at the chips more, that’s a clue that you’ll probably choose them.
According to a recent paper in PNAS, this influence can work the other way around, too. If you’re forced to make your choice while you’re looking at the candy bar, you’ll probably choose that option—even if you looked at the chips more overall. That is, external influences can play a role in your decision-making.
According to the paper, this phenomenon can hold true even for decisions a lot more complicated and weighty than what snack food you'd prefer. In a series of experiments that focused on moral decision-making, researchers explored whether eye gaze helps track thinking about moral thought processes and whether it can be manipulated to sway decision outcomes.
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