In our information-rich environment, the gaze direction of another indicates their current focus of attention. Following the gaze of another, results in gaze-evoked shifts in joint attention, a phenomenon critical for the functioning of social cognition. Previous research in joint attention has shown that objects that are attended by another are more liked than ignored objects. Here, we investigated this effect of gaze-cueing on participants’ preferences for unknown food items. Participants provided their willingness to pay (WTP), taste and health preferences for food items before and after a standard gaze-cueing paradigm. We observed a significant effect of gaze-cueing on participants’ WTP bids. Specifically, participants were willing to pay more money for the food items that were looked at by another person. In contrast, there was a decrease in preference for the food items that were ignored by another person. Interestingly, this increase in WTP occurred without participants’ awareness of the contingency between the cue and target. These results highlight the influence of social information on human choice behavior and lay the foundation for experiments in neuromarketing and consumer decision making.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)