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John Pospisil, Kelly Rutan; Gaze duration differences during a complex scene color preference test occur based on identical vs. dissimilar scenes. Journal of Vision 2007;7(9):25. doi: 10.1167/7.9.25.
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The majority of research on scene preference and eye movements assumes that gaze time is positively correlated with attentional focus and decision-making. Previous research also demonstrates that, at least when participants view faces, gaze time is positively correlated with perceived attractiveness of the stimuli.
Color preference testing in complex scenes requires rendering scenes with identical content to show shifts in color space. This task is different that other discrimination tasks in which an individual might compare dissimilar stimuli (e.g. different faces to rate facial attractiveness). Furthermore, it is assumed that when comparing stimuli that are identical except for color shifts, a viewer compares the physical sample to a memory of an ideal or appropriate color for the stimulus. In case of the latter, one's cognitive task may shift from identifying the most-preferred scene to identifying the scene most different from one's expectations. Accordingly, it was hypothesized that when comparing dissimilar stimuli, participants would gaze longer at the preferred sample in a 2AFC color preference test. In contrast, it was hypothesized that participants would gaze longer at the least-preferred stimuli in a 2AFC color preference test comparing otherwise identical stimuli.
Participants wore a head-mounted eye tracking unit during a 2AFC color preference test in which similar and dissimilar scenes were presented. To isolate color as a variable and to minimize the effect of print artifacts, individuals were seated approximately two meters away from the stimuli. The samples were illuminated by a Gretag-Macbeth light booth set to “cool white”. Results support both hypotheses. Participants gaze longer at the least preferred samples when comparing identical scenes but longer at the most preferred samples when comparing dissimilar stimuli.
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