Journal of the Economic Science Association

, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp 112–122 | Cite as

When the eyes say buy: visual fixations during hypothetical consumer choice improve prediction of actual purchases

  • Taisuke ImaiEmail author
  • Min Jeong Kang
  • Colin F. Camerer
Original Paper


Consumers typically overstate their intentions to purchase products, compared to actual rates of purchases, a pattern called “hypothetical bias”. In laboratory choice experiments, we measure participants’ visual attention using mousetracking or eye-tracking, while they make hypothetical as well as real purchase decisions. We find that participants spent more time looking both at price and product image prior to making a real “buy” decision than making a real “don’t buy” decision. We demonstrate that including such information about visual attention improves prediction of real buy decisions. This improvement is evident, although small in magnitude, using mousetracking data, but is not evident using eye-tracking data.


Mousetracking Eye-tracking Hypothetical bias Prediction 

JEL Classification

D12 D90 C91 


Supplementary material

40881_2019_71_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (2.1 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (pdf 2143 KB)


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Copyright information

© Economic Science Association 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ludwig Maximilian University of MunichMunichGermany
  2. 2.California Institute of TechnologyPasadenaUSA

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