ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2023, Vol. 55 ›› Issue (6): 994-1015.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2023.00994

• Reports of Empirical Studies • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Toward a coherent understanding of risky, intertemporal, and spatial choices: Evidence from eye-tracking and subjective evaluation

HUANG Yuanna1,2, JIANG Chengming3, LIU Hongzhi4, LI Shu2,5,*()   

  1. 1School of Economics and Management, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China
    2Department of Psychology, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
    3School of Management, Zhejiang University of Technology, Hangzhou 310023, China
    4Department of Social Psychology, Zhou Enlai School of Government, Nankai University, Tianjin 300350, China
    5Department of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310028, China
  • Received:2022-02-13 Published:2023-06-25 Online:2023-03-10
  • Contact: LI Shu
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(71471171);National Natural Science Foundation of China(71571164);National Natural Science Foundation of China(71901126);Major Program of the National Social Science Foundation of China(19ZDA358);Humanity and Social Science Youth Foundation of Ministry of Education of China(22YJC190009)


This study aims to examine whether risky/intertemporal/spatial choices are coherently reached by choosing between the same units of quantity (Overall PayoffA vs. Overall PayoffB) or by comparing values measured using different units of quantity (∆OutcomeA,B vs. ∆ProbabilityA,B/∆DelayA,B/∆SpaceA,B). Study 1 used an eye-tracking technique to examine whether the outcome dimension and probability/time/space of outcome dimension were directly compared in three choice domains. Our findings show that, from the group-level, decision makers perform a consistent dimension-based search pattern in the three domains, indicating that the decision processes are more dependent on a way of intra-dimensional comparison. From the individual-level, the vast majority of participants were classified as decision makers who using dimension-based strategy. Moreover, the two index we constructed, difference in gaze duration and difference in saccades frequency, could significantly predict the behavioral choice shift. Those results provide supporting evidence for dimension-based strategy in three choice domains. Study 2 used a visual analog scale to examine whether the different units of quantity were treated in an equate-to-differentiate way to reach decisions. Results showed that decisions could be made through an intra-dimensional difference evaluation prescribed by equate-to-differentiate theory. The current paper provides supportive evidence for the comparison rule of “pitting intangible elements against tangible ones” and break a new ground different from the “translating intangible elements into tangible ones” algorithm. Future studies may consider the development of a general model to explain the choices of three different domains.

Key words: eye-tracking technique, visual analog scale, tangible and intangible dimension, intra-dimensional evaluation, comparison between different units of quantity