iMotions, one of the leading designers and manufacturers of eye-tracking equipment in the country, recently named an article by Bloustein School researchers as on of the “10 Best Articles of the Year in Human Behavior Research.”
The article, “Eye-tracking technology, visual preference surveys, and urban design: preliminary evidence of an effective methodology,” was published in the Journal of Urbanism: International Research on Placemaking and Urban Sustainability. The research was conducted by Robert B. Noland, Marc D. Weiner, Dong Gao, Michael P. Cook and Tony Nelessen.
Using eye-tracking technology, the researchers administered a visual preference survey to a convenience sample to evaluate quantitatively the ways in which individuals process and rank images used in public settings for urban planning. Combining both a subjective qualitative analysis with quantitative evaluation of the eye-tracking data, the analysis largely confirms that various new urbanist components of the images, namely people, pedestrian features, and greenery, lead to higher rankings, while images with cars and parking receive negative rankings. Buildings, which are a key component of architectural design, had mixed results. The analysis demonstrates the efficacy of visual preference surveys. Though the survey, the researchers show a way for transportation and urban planners to extract greater value from visual preference surveys, consistent with efforts to increase pedestrian activity while reducing motor vehicle traffic in cities.