Visual attention to repeated internet images: testing the scanpath theory on the world wide web

  • Josephson S
  • Holmes M
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The somewhat controversial and often-discussed theory of visual perception, that of scanpaths, was tested using Web pages as visual stimuli. In 1971, Noton and Stark defined "scanpaths" as repetitive sequences of fixations and saccades that occur upon re-exposure to a visual stimulus, facilitating recognition of that stimulus. Since Internet users are repeatedly exposed to certain visual displays of information, the Web is an ideal stimulus to test this theory. Eye-movement measures were recorded while subjects repeatedly viewed three different kinds of Internet pages -- a portal page, an advertising page and a news story page -- over the course of a week. Scanpaths were compared by using the string-edit methodology that measures resemblance between sequences. Findings show that on the World Wide Web, with somewhat complex visual digital images, some viewers' eye movements may follow a habitually preferred path -- a scanpath -- across the visual display. In addition, strong similarity among eye-path sequences of different viewers may indicate that other forces such as features of the Web site or memory are important.

Author-supplied keywords

  • analysis
  • eye movement
  • eye tracking
  • internet imagery
  • optimal matching
  • scanpath
  • sequence comparison
  • string editing
  • world

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  • Sheree Josephson

  • Michael E. Holmes

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