Eye-Tracking and Visual Preference: Maybe Beauty Is in the Eye of the Beholder?

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The “Content-Identifying Methodology”, or CIM, is an approach developed by environmental psychologists Rachel and Stephen Kaplan to understand the landscape characteristics that people find visually attractive. The Kaplans did this by surveying people’s landscape preferences and then analyzing the preferences to develop sets of landscape scenes to which people reacted in a similar pattern. The underlying assumption is that a common stimulus or content exists in the photographs of a set responsible for the preference. However, identifying the common stimulus or content in each set or grouping of scenes and how it affects preference can still be challenging. Eye-tracking is a tool that can identify what the survey participants were looking at when indicating their preference for a landscape. This paper demonstrates how eye-tracking was used in two different landscape preference studies to identify the content important to people’s preferences and provide insights into how the content affected preference. Eye-tracking can help identify a common stimulus, help determine if the stimulus is a physical or spatial characteristic of the landscape, and show how the stimulus varies in different landscape contexts.




Miller, P.A. Eye-Tracking and Visual Preference: Maybe Beauty Is in the Eye of the Beholder?Land 2024, 13, 598.