Psychology researchers have found that how people move their mouse may be an indication of their propensity to take risks: Given the choice between a risky and non-risky option, those who risk move toward the risky option at first … even if they end up choosing a safe bet. Likewise, those with a lower risk tolerance tend to move the mouse towards a safer option, even if they end up choosing to gamble.
“We show that measuring mouse movements while identifying participants between a risky gamble and paying a specific compensation strongly detects their conflict of options,” says the paper, and that this discrepancy strongly predicts their own risk preferences. Moreover, mouse movements predict risk preferences even when selection outcomes are not the same. “
In short, tracking the movement of mice allowed study participants to get a glimpse of how they made choices, not just what those choices were. “How attracted their hand is to the choice they haven’t made can reveal a lot about how difficult the decision is for them,” said lead author Paul Stillman. Ohio State News.
It’s a particularly interesting – and familiar – result if you’re a consistent player. All those times in Hades where you hover your mouse over the more dangerous Boon group before you choose the safest and easiest option for your machine? In those times did you choose to reward hard damage over the critical hit chance? Or, honestly, just your primary preference for the game’s opportunity-based mechanics over the expected effects. Are you the type to hate Hearthstone’s unpredictable Hearthstone and Yogg-Saron random combinations, or do you love them?
I honestly cannot overstate how clear these results are to me based on the way I act in games where the choice between safe and risk bet is presented, but I have never heard anyone confirm that this behavior is not only widespread, but rather predictive. “In many cases, we can accurately predict how people will behave in the future after we noticed them only once, choosing adventure or not,” said Ian Kragbitch, one of the study’s collaborators.
The study was conducted by Paul Stillman, Ian Karajbach, and Melissa J. Ferguson. It was posted on Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.