Eye-Tracking in Social Research

Instructor: Prof. Jesper Clement (Copenhagen Business School, Denmark)



For many years insights into consumers’ needs and wanting have been based on observations and asking people. Well knowing that people say one thing and do another, the need for other research methods has long been acknowledgement in marketing. Neuroscientific research refers to such methods, including advanced technical equipment and new ways of doing experimental research. This has within the last decade led to a shift in consumer research and challenged the established theory of decision-making. One major question mark is put at the assumption that in-store decisions, are made on a rational search for relevant information. Several studies have revealed that consumers do not have a complete overview of their purchase intentions and more importantly, they are influenced by prominent visual elements. In that way in-store purchase decisions depends on consumers’ ability to find themselves through a pool of visual stimuli trying to catch their visual attention. The eye tracking technology has over the last decade made it possible to step out of Lab- settings and into real-life environments, enabling us to study consumers’ responses to shelf- displays, in-store advertisements and not least how people select daily commodities. As the amount of data and the complexity increase significantly in such settings, it also poses a challenge for both academic and commercial researchers. The analysis of data becomes highly resource demanding and we are running the risk of drowning in data. Jesper Clement gives an overview of this fast developing toolbox by examples of research designs, results, and links to literature.


Required literature for preparation:

Clement, J., J. Aastrup, & S. C. Forsberg, 2015: Decisive visual saliency and consumers׳ in- store decisions. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services 22: 187–194.

Graham, D. J., J. L. Orquin & V. H. M. Visschers, 2012: Eye tracking and nutrition label use: A review of the literature and recommendations for label enhancement. Food Policy 37 (4): .382–378

Orquin, J. L. & S. Mueller Loose, 2013: Attention and choice: A review on eye movements in decision making. Acta Psychologica 144 (1): 190–206.

Townsend, C. & B. E. Kahn, 2014: The “Visual Preference Heuristic”: The Influence of Visual versus Verbal Depiction on Assortment Processing, Perceived Variety, and Choice Overload. Journal of Consumer Research 40 (5): 993–1015.