Are Eyes the Window to Our Mistakes?

Are Eyes the Window to Our Mistakes?

We all make poor decisions from time to time. Researchers at the University of Arizona are working to better understand why, and they're looking to the eyes for answers.

To study mistake making in humans, researchers performed an auditory test on 108 participants in a lab. Each participant listened to a series of 20 clicks, some in their left ear and some in their right, over the span of a single second. They then had to decide which ear received the most clicks. Each participant repeated the task 760 times, on average, with the patterns of clicks varying in each trial.

Due to the rapid nature of the task, mistakes in responses were common, with participants giving the wrong answer about 22 percent of the time. Throughout all the trials, researchers were interested in what was going on in participants' eyes – specifically their pupils – when an error was made. 

Their findings, published in the journal Nature Human Behaviour, add to scientific understanding of how pupil size and reactivity may correlate with mistake making, and what that may tell us about what's happening in the brain when we make the wrong choice.

"When we make decisions in real life, we don't have all the information presented to us at once; we have to integrate the information over time to make a decision," said lead author Waitsang Keung, a postdoctoral research associate in the UA Department of Psychology.

"Humans don't make perfect decisions. They're subjected to a lot of cognitive biases, so one question is what kind of biases are they subjected to in this process of integrating evidence over time?" Keung said.

Read the full article from UA News here

Published Date: 
03/12/2019 - 14:49