NOV 24, 2020 10:30 AM PST

Computer Mouse Movements Predict Risk-Taking Behavior

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

Researchers from Ohio State University have found a way to measure people’s appetite for risk-taking behavior from how they move a computer mouse on a screen. 

“Choice data is not very useful for many purposes. You don’t know the strength of a person’s preference or how close they were to making the other choice,” he Ian Kajibich, one of the researchers behind the study. “And that’s what the mouse-tracking measure can give us.”

For the research, the researchers conducted three studies involving 652 people. Throughout, they measured each participant’s mouse movements as they decided to open one of two boxes, or a 50/50 gamble. While one box, for example, would offer a 50% chance of gaining $10 or losing $5, the other box contained an option that was usually equal to a $0 loss or gain. All in all, the participants made 215 ‘gambling’ decisions, with some bigger than others. 

In the end, the researchers found that some participants took relatively straight paths from the mouse’s starting point to their choice. This was interpreted as the participant making a confident decision without much internal conflict. Participants, however, who veered towards one option before settling on another were interpreted to have felt more internal conflict. 

More than this, the researchers found that mouse movements from one decision could predict how participants would respond in a similar circumstance. People who veered towards the opposite choice to what they selected the first time, were more likely to select this choice the second time around. 

In another experiment, the researchers asked participants to treat their decision making as a stock trader would- not focusing too much on individual gambles, but rather their ultimate ‘portfolio’ of choices. In doing so, they found participants were less conflicted when accepting gambles, although more conflicted when rejecting them, as they had expected. 

From their findings, the researchers say that other motor movements may also provide insights into our decision-making. Ultimately measuring ‘physical manifestations of hesitation’, the researchers say that scrolling on phones may also provide information on how people make decisions. 

 

Sources: Neuroscience NewsEurekAlert

About the Author
  • Science writer with a keen interest in behavioral biology, consciousness medicine and technology. Her current focus is how the interplay of these fields can create meaningful interactions, products and environments.
You May Also Like
JAN 05, 2021
Neuroscience
Synthetic Psychedelic Treats Depression Without Hallucinations
JAN 05, 2021
Synthetic Psychedelic Treats Depression Without Hallucinations
Psychedelics are receiving an increasing amount of attention- both in research and in the media- for their potential to ...
JAN 28, 2021
Neuroscience
Researchers Uncover Synapse Mechanism Behind Addiction
JAN 28, 2021
Researchers Uncover Synapse Mechanism Behind Addiction
Researchers have shown that enzymes working at the synapses of medium spiny neurons (MSN) are associated with drug-seeki ...
FEB 12, 2021
Neuroscience
How Cannabis Affects Entrepreneurial Skills
FEB 12, 2021
How Cannabis Affects Entrepreneurial Skills
Entrepreneurs are often known for their blue sky thinking, but when idea creation happens by entrepreneurs who are also ...
MAR 04, 2021
Drug Discovery & Development
How Placebo Drugs for Pain Work in the Brain
MAR 04, 2021
How Placebo Drugs for Pain Work in the Brain
Researchers from Dartmouth College have found that pain relief drugs that work via the placebo effect reduce pain-relate ...
MAR 11, 2021
Clinical & Molecular DX
Racial Disparities in ADHD Diagnoses
MAR 11, 2021
Racial Disparities in ADHD Diagnoses
Researchers have found significant racial disparities in ADHD diagnoses and treatment: Black, Hispanic, and Asian childr ...
MAY 06, 2021
Technology
New Neural Implant Can Help Study Multiple Areas of the Brain at Once
MAY 06, 2021
New Neural Implant Can Help Study Multiple Areas of the Brain at Once
We’re probably all familiar with seeing images of the brain with different areas labeled: the frontal lobe, occipi ...
Loading Comments...