Can mouse-tracking reveal attribute processing speeds in dietary self-control?: Commentary on Sullivan et al. (2015) and Lim et al. (2018) with new data

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Abstract

In this commentary, we re-examine the use of a mouse-tracking method for revealing attribute processing speeds in dietary self-control (Sullivan et al. 2015; Lim et al., 2018). Surprised by the large and robust effect given the subtle underlying mechanism, we re-analyzed Sullivan et al. (2015)’s data and performed a replication. It can be demonstrated that the correlations between attributes and trajectory angle do not reflect causal influences of the attributes on the ongoing decision-making process, but are a logical consequence of: (1) a motor-control factor that people move cursors with curvatures; (2) an empirical effect that tastiness is weighted more in choices than healthiness. When choice direction as a confounding variable is controlled for, evidence for the processing speed difference disappears. Our data further support that people’s motor-control habits in a filler task contribute to the estimated processing speeds. Implications for self-control theories and the mouse-tracking paradigm are discussed.
LanguageEnglish
JournalPsychological Science
DOIs
StateSubmitted - 7 Oct 2018

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Confounding Factors (Epidemiology)
Habits
Decision Making
Self-Control
Direction compound

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title = "Can mouse-tracking reveal attribute processing speeds in dietary self-control?: Commentary on Sullivan et al. (2015) and Lim et al. (2018) with new data",
abstract = "In this commentary, we re-examine the use of a mouse-tracking method for revealing attribute processing speeds in dietary self-control (Sullivan et al. 2015; Lim et al., 2018). Surprised by the large and robust effect given the subtle underlying mechanism, we re-analyzed Sullivan et al. (2015)’s data and performed a replication. It can be demonstrated that the correlations between attributes and trajectory angle do not reflect causal influences of the attributes on the ongoing decision-making process, but are a logical consequence of: (1) a motor-control factor that people move cursors with curvatures; (2) an empirical effect that tastiness is weighted more in choices than healthiness. When choice direction as a confounding variable is controlled for, evidence for the processing speed difference disappears. Our data further support that people’s motor-control habits in a filler task contribute to the estimated processing speeds. Implications for self-control theories and the mouse-tracking paradigm are discussed.",
author = "C. Zhang and M.C. Willemsen and D. Lakens",
year = "2018",
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journal = "Psychological Science",
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AU - Zhang,C.

AU - Willemsen,M.C.

AU - Lakens,D.

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N2 - In this commentary, we re-examine the use of a mouse-tracking method for revealing attribute processing speeds in dietary self-control (Sullivan et al. 2015; Lim et al., 2018). Surprised by the large and robust effect given the subtle underlying mechanism, we re-analyzed Sullivan et al. (2015)’s data and performed a replication. It can be demonstrated that the correlations between attributes and trajectory angle do not reflect causal influences of the attributes on the ongoing decision-making process, but are a logical consequence of: (1) a motor-control factor that people move cursors with curvatures; (2) an empirical effect that tastiness is weighted more in choices than healthiness. When choice direction as a confounding variable is controlled for, evidence for the processing speed difference disappears. Our data further support that people’s motor-control habits in a filler task contribute to the estimated processing speeds. Implications for self-control theories and the mouse-tracking paradigm are discussed.

AB - In this commentary, we re-examine the use of a mouse-tracking method for revealing attribute processing speeds in dietary self-control (Sullivan et al. 2015; Lim et al., 2018). Surprised by the large and robust effect given the subtle underlying mechanism, we re-analyzed Sullivan et al. (2015)’s data and performed a replication. It can be demonstrated that the correlations between attributes and trajectory angle do not reflect causal influences of the attributes on the ongoing decision-making process, but are a logical consequence of: (1) a motor-control factor that people move cursors with curvatures; (2) an empirical effect that tastiness is weighted more in choices than healthiness. When choice direction as a confounding variable is controlled for, evidence for the processing speed difference disappears. Our data further support that people’s motor-control habits in a filler task contribute to the estimated processing speeds. Implications for self-control theories and the mouse-tracking paradigm are discussed.

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