Covert attention leads to fast and accurate decision making

Sonja Perkovic*, Martin Schoemann, C. J. Lagerkvist, Jacob Lund Orquin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Decision-makers are regularly faced with more choice information than they can directly gaze at in a limited amount of time. Many theories assume that because decision-makers attend to information sequentially and overtly, that is, with direct gaze, they must respond to information overload by trading off between speed and decision accuracy. By reanalyzing five published studies, we show that participants, besides using overt attention, also use covert attention. That is, without being instructed to do so, participants attend to information without direct gaze to evaluate choice attributes that lead them to either choose the best or reject theworst option. Weshow that the use of covert attention is common for most participants andmore sowhen information is easily identifiable in the peripheral visual field due to being large or visually salient. Covert attention is associated with faster decision times suggesting that participants might process multiple pieces of information simultaneously using distributed attention. Our findings highlight the importance of covert attention in decision-making and show how decision-makers may be gaining speed while retaining high levels of decision accuracy.We

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Applied
Pages (from-to)78-94
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023


  • Consumer choice
  • Covert attention
  • Decision-making
  • Eye tracking
  • Peripheral vision


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