The influence of visual attention on memory-based preferential choice


Many decisions rely on past experiences. Recent research indicates that people’s choices are biased towards choosing better-remembered options, even if these options are comparatively unattractive (i.e., a memory bias). In the current study, we used eye tracking to compare the influence of visual attention on preferential choice between memory-based and non-memory-based decisions. Participants completed the remember-and-decide task. In this task, they first learned associations between screen locations and snack items. Then, they made binary choices between snack items. These snacks were either hidden and required recall (memory-based decisions), or they were visible (non-memory-based decisions). Remarkably, choices were more strongly influenced by attention in memory-based compared to non-memory-based decisions. However, visual attention did not mediate the memory bias on preferential choices. Finally, we adopt and expand a recently proposed computational model to provide a comprehensive description of the role of attention in memory-based decisions. In sum, the present work elucidates how visual attention interacts with episodic memory and preference formation in memory-based decisions.

Cognition (2021)