Eye Movements in Strategic Choice

Neil Stewart, Simon Gächter, Takao Noguchi, Timothy L. Mullett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Citations (SciVal)


In risky and other multiattribute choices, the process of choosing is well described by random walk or drift diffusion models in which evidence is accumulated over time to threshold. In strategic choices, level-k and cognitive hierarchy models have been offered as accounts of the choice process, in which people simulate the choice processes of their opponents or partners. We recorded the eye movements in 2×2 symmetric games including dominance-solvable games like prisoner's dilemma and asymmetric coordination games like stag hunt and hawk-dove. The evidence was most consistent with the accumulation of payoff differences over time: we found longer duration choices with more fixations when payoffs differences were more finely balanced, an emerging bias to gaze more at the payoffs for the action ultimately chosen, and that a simple count of transitions between payoffs-whether or not the comparison is strategically informative-was strongly associated with the final choice. The accumulator models do account for these strategic choice process measures, but the level-k and cognitive hierarchy models do not.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-156
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Behavioral Decision Making
Issue number2-3
Early online date29 Oct 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2016


  • Accumulator models
  • Cognitive hierarchy
  • Drift diffusion
  • Experimental games
  • Eye tracking
  • Gaze bias effect
  • Gaze cascade effect
  • Hawk-dove
  • Level-k
  • Normal-form games
  • Prisoner's dilemma
  • Process tracing
  • Stag hunt

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Decision Sciences(all)
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Strategy and Management


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