The order of information processing alters economic gain-loss framing effects.
Adaptive decision making requires analysis of available information during the process of choice. In many decisions that information is presented visually - which means that variations in visual properties (e.g., salience, complexity) can potentially influence the process of choice. In the current study, we demonstrate that variation in the left-right positioning of risky and safe decision options can influence the canonical gain-loss framing effect. Two experiments were conducted using an economic framing task in which participants chose between gambles and certain outcomes. The first experiment demonstrated that the magnitude of the gain-loss framing effect was greater when the certain option signaling the current frame was presented on the left side of the visual display. Eye-tracking data during task performance showed a left-gaze bias for initial fixations, suggesting that the option presented on the left side was processed first. Combination of eye-tracking and choice data revealed that there was a significant effect of direction of first gaze (i.e. left vs. right) as well as an interaction between gaze direction and identity of the first fixated information (i.e. certain vs. gamble) regardless of frame. A second experiment presented the gamble and certain options in a random order, with a temporal delay between their presentations. We found that the magnitude of gain-loss framing was larger when the certain option was presented first, regardless of left and right positioning, only in individuals with lower risk-taking tendencies. The effect of presentation order on framing was not present in high risk-takers. These results suggest that the sequence of visual information processing as well as their left-right positioning can bias choices by changing the impact of the presented information during risky decision making.
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