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Use of eye tracking in media research

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Use of Eye Tracking in Media Research

Oskars Java, Institute of Social, Economic and Humanities Research, Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences, Latvia


Eye tracking is a method that measures where and for how long a user is looking. Thanks to technological advances, it has become more accessible for the study of user experience (Macedo, 2021). More and more research is using eye movement to explore individual differences in cognitive processes (Szarkowska, Krejtz, Krejtz, & Duchowski, 2015). It allows researchers to look through the user's eyes and gain insight into visual attention (Macedo, 2021) and behaviour (Java & Gundare, 2021). This methodology is widely used in academic research to understand how consumers perceive, process and respond to messaging, the trading environment and a variety of media and devices (Tobii, 2021). A large number of studies focus on the effects that news consumption has on learning (Kruikemeier, Lecheler, & Boyer, 2017). The eye-tracking method allows for a detailed analysis of the stages at which problems arise, for instance, ones with perception or comprehension (Schiessl, Duda, Thölke, & Fischer, 2003).

In this age of digitalisation, reading on screen has boomed due to the availability of various display devices (Ralekar, Saha, Gandhi, & Chaudhury, 2018). Most people prefer display devices rather than print media for reading (Ralekar, Saha, Gandhi, & Chaudhury, 2018). The use of digital devices causes interruptions during reading (Chevet, Baccino, Marlot, Winter, & Drai-Zerbib, 2021). When consuming media digitally, reading is constantly disturbed and interrupted. While Chevet's study suggests that the effects of interruptions on comprehension may not be critical (Chevet, Baccino, Marlot, Winter, & Drai-Zerbib, 2021), the results of Krukemeier's study comparing the differences in learning between news modalities show that they are indeed driven by variations in attention: exposure to printed news media leads to more diverse learning through increased visual attention, while more selective visual attention to news on websites leads to learning of specific subjects only. (Kruikemeier, Lecheler, & Boyer, 2017). In Brishtel's study, after having read the same text on screen and paper, while completing the multiple-choice test, the group that read the printed text answered 72.2% correct, while the group that read it on screen scored only 13.9% (Brishtel, Ishimaru, Augereau, Kise, & Dengel, 2018). One of the reasons for this phenomenon could be that information contained in digital resources is processed more shallowly and superficially than in printed ones (Latini, Bråten, & Salmerón, 2020).

Brishtel's findings show that the media type has a significant influence on cognitive workload and understandability of the content. (Brishtel, Ishimaru, Augereau, Kise, & Dengel, 2018). In order to create user-friendly digital media, it is crucial to design new intelligent user interfaces and it is necessary to take mental processes of users more into account (Brishtel, Ishimaru, Augereau, Kise, & Dengel, 2018).
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Brishtel, I., Ishimaru, S., Augereau, O., Kise, K., & Dengel, A. (2018). Assessing Cognitive Workload on Printed and Electronic Media using Eye-Tracker and EDA Wristband. IUI'18 Companion, 1-2. doi:10.1145/3180308.3180354

Chevet, G., Baccino, T., Marlot, L., Vinter, A., & Drai-Zerbib, V. (2021). Effects of interruption on eye movements and comprehension during reading on digital devices. Learning and Instruction, 1-12. doi:10.1016/j.learninstruc.2021.101565

Jacob, S., Ishimaru, S., Bukhari, S. S., & Dengel, A. (2018). Gaze-based Interest Detection on Newspaper Articles. PETMEI '18: Proceedings of the 7th Workshop on Pervasive Eye Tracking and Mobile Eye-Based Interaction, 1-7. doi:10.1145/3208031.3208034

Java, O., & Gundare, I. (2021). The role of the National Library of Latvia in creating synergies between documentary heritage and society. SABIEDRĪBA UN KULTŪRA. RAKSTU KRĀJUMS XXII, 108-116. doi: 10.37384/SK.2021.23.108

Kruikemeier, S., Lecheler, S., & Boyer, M. M. (2017). Learning From News on Different Media Platforms:. Political Communication, 00, 1-22. doi:10.1080/10584609.2017.1388310

Latini, N., Bråten, I., & Salmerón, L. (2020). Does Reading Medium Affect Processing and Integration of Textual and Pictorial Information? A Multimedia Eye-Tracking Study. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 1-56. doi:10.1016/j.cedpsych.2020.101870

Macedo, M. (2021). Eye-Tracking In Mobilde UX Research. Downloaded from Smashing Magazine:

Ralekar, C., Saha, P., Gandhi, T. K., & Chaudhury, S. (2018). 2018. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, 11278, 136-147. doi:10.1007/978-3-030-04021-5_13

Schiessl, M., Duda, S., Thölke, A., & Fischer, R. (2003). Eye tracking and its application. Berlin.

Szarkowska, A., Krejtz, I., Krejtz, K., & Duchowski, A. (2015). Harnessing the Potential of Eye-Tracking. University of Warsaw.

Tobii. (2021). Marketing and Consumer Research. Downloaded from tobiipro:

Project is supported by the Fund for Bilateral Relations of the EEA and Norwegian Financial Mechanisms 2014-2021.


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