Scientific Research Project Title

Rethinking the Choice Process

Research Institution

Aarhus University

Department of Management / MAPP


Consumer Psychology


Phone: +45 2217 8621

Research leader

Jacob L. Orquin

Professor, born 1980

The project will combine theories from vision science and decision making, to develop a model of visual attention when consumers shop in stores or online. The project will also explore how merely looking more or less at a product can change our preference for that product. The resulting theory will be able to explain which products consumers look at and which ones they ignore and use this to better predict consumer choices.     

What is your project about?

By combining vision science, neuroscience, and econometric models, we will develop a mathematical model termed the Hybrid Attention-Choice Model (HAC). The model uses consumers’ preferences and images of the visual environment as input and predicts eye movements and choices in situations where consumers rely on visual information during choice, e.g. supermarkets, restaurants, or online. The project will contribute to basic research by developing a theory and model of a) eye movements in decision making which explains how consideration sets are formed and b) how consumer choices result from application of preferences to consideration sets. Furthermore, the project will contribute to public policy by providing a process-oriented and predictive alternative to current choice models.Jacob Lund Orquin - eye tracking eye.png

How did you become interested in your particular field of research? 

As a kid, I was very interested in biology. When I got older the interest changed to philosophy and by the time I finished university it had changed again to cognitive science. When I look at my research today, it still has traces of the topics that peaked my curiosity during childhood and adolescence. In this project we will, for example, combine biometric methods with theories from cognitive science to answer the philosophical conundrum of whether we look at things because we like them or whether we like things because we look at them. 

What are the scientific challenges and perspectives in your project?

The main challenge in our project is to explain how consumers make up their mind during a shopping decision. To answer this question we need to solve several other puzzles, such as how many products do consumers look at, which products are they, and how do consumers apply their preferences to those products they have looked at?  

What is your estimate of the impact, which your project may have to society in the long term? 

The project will advance basic research on decision making by providing a new theory of the relation between visual attention and choice. The project also has a clear practical impact by providing a model of consumer attention and choice that can be used to improve shelf layouts and online store designs in order to guide consumers towards, for instance, healthier or more sustainable products.  

Which impact do you expect the Sapere Aude programme will have on your career as a researcher?

The Sapere Aude programme provides the necessary resources for a large and ambitious project that will lead to the development of a new theory. This new theory will strengthen my impact as a researcher and together with the prestige of the Sapere Aude programme serve as a stepping stone for further grants. The grant will certainly lead to several other positive outcomes many of which are difficult to know in advance.        

Background and personal life

My partner and I both work in the same area. Lately, however, our attention has been redirected from our mutual research topics to our little son, Isaac. When time allows, I love to read fiction. I am particularly fond of the books by Neal Stephenson.  

City of current residence

High school
Nykøbing Katedralskole in Nykøbing Falster