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A Multi-Component Process-Tracing Study of the Attraction Effect

Neo Poon
Warwick Business School, United Kingdom

The attraction effect is one of the most prominent phenomena in behavioural science and has drawn considerable attention in many fields. However, studies which directly investigate the cognitive mechanisms underlying the attraction effect with process-tracing methods remain uncommon. The present study is among the first to examine the attraction effect with multiple process-tracing methods, that is, with mouse-tracking and reason listing. Methodologically, this addresses the need for triangulation and improves validity. Theoretically, this study investigates whether different explanations of the attraction effect converge, and assumed roles of attentional patterns and distinct reasons in cognitive models. Results showed that, for attentional patterns, the target was attended to more frequently and for a longer duration, and transitions between the target and the decoy were more prevalent than other types of transitions, both of which support previous findings. For reasoning, results showed that reasons supporting the chosen option were generated in greater quantity and earlier, which supports Query Theory (Johnson et al., 2007). Finally, with mouse movement data divided into discrete stages for each distinct reason, we studied how information sampling and decision queries affect each other. Results generally support existing models, while the data opens up the possibilities of hybrid process models.



context effect
multialternative choices
decison making


Mathematical Psychology

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