A lot of companies can learn many things about us based on our online clicks. Very small things, like the way we move our mouses reveal more than we want. For example, they can predict our future choices we will make and the preferences that we have in life based on that information only.
Dr. Paul Stillman from Ohio State University tested some participants whether they will choose the safe or risky bets. He also tracked the way they moved the mouse. These two pieces of information were enough for him to find out how much were these people feeling certain about the choices they’ve made and therefore, how likely are they to continue following that path in the future.
In the study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Stillman and his colleagues wrote that choice is not something that happens separately but it is a dynamic cognitive process that can be revealed through motor movements.
They add that people also reveal the conflict they feel while making the choice. He explains that people who were tempted by the high-risk option moved the mouse in that direction before making their final choice and click on the safe bet. These people were more likely to take the risky choice in the future compared to those who didn’t hesitate to immediately decide to follow the safe path.
Dr. Ian Krajbich, Stillman’s supervisor said that they can pretty accurately predict how people will behave in the future just by observing how they bring the decision between the risky and safe place. As he says, only one observation is enough for them to make accurate predictions.
The participants in the study have their cursor placed at the bottom center of the screen. They were faced with two options, a safe at the top left side and a risky one at the upper right. On some rounds, they were offered a 50/50 chance to gain or lose money, and sometimes they had to choose between a small reward and an equal chance of getting more or nothing.
This measure is much more efficient than the traditional measures in predicting participants’ future behavior, especially by the movement they make, whether they moved straight to the target or made a circuitous route.
Psychological studies show that most people think that the pain of losing is greater than the joy the winning brings and also want to avoid risk as much as possible. But, there is a lack of research that investigates how people make these decisions. Therefore, this research is great for gaining insight into people’s thoughts and feelings that appear in the process of making choices.
This information shows us that we need to be more careful about our posts on the social network because there is someone who might take advantage of them.