What participating in an eyetracking study looks like:
What the data looks like (all data we collect is anonymous):
What is an eyetracker?
An eyetracker is a camera that records your eye movements millisecond-by-millisecond and can tell from the angle of your eyes exactly where on the screen you are looking at any given moment. This is a very exciting tool that psycholinguists can use to better understand human language processing.
What can I expect when I come to participate in the study?
You will be seated in front of a computer screen with an eyetracker located below eye-level. Before the study, we will conduct a calibration of the equipment to train it to find your eyes and record their movement. During the study, you may be asked to look at pictures or read some sentences. In most of our studies, we give you one or more breaks so that you can rest your eyes and stretch every few minutes. Depending on the study, we may also ask you to perform a brief additional task such as filling out a questionnaire about your language background.
If you are participating in one of our studies that takes place at the USC campus, you will likely be participating in a study that uses the Eyelink 1000 Plus. You will be seated with your head in a stabilizing device, as illustrated in the picture on this page.
If you are participating in a study not on USC’s campus, we will be using the Eyelink Portable Duo for the experiment. You may be seated with your head stabilized on a chin rest, or we may ask to put a special sticker on your forehead to help the eyetracker know where your eyes are.
Why is this equipment necessary for the study?
We are interested in language processing – how you are able to understand language in real time. This means we are looking at effects sometimes as small as 100ms – that’s not something we can observe just by watching you ourselves, but our equipment is easily able to pick up on movements at such a small timescale.
is the eyetracker safe?
Yes. The eyetracker is just a very fancy camera with an infrared illuminator. There is no risk to your eyes from participating in an eyetracking study.
Can I participate if I wear glasses or contact lenses?
Yes, our equipment will be able to track your eye movements even if you wear glasses or contact lenses.
Will I be able to blink during the experiment?
Yes, you can blink. Blinking and other natural eye movements do not interfere with the eyetracker. Additionally, in most of our studies you will have at least one break during the study in order to rest your eyes.
What does the data look like? Are you recording my face?
The data we get from the eyetracker is numerical – it tells us where you were looking, at what point, and for how long. Despite the eyetracker being a “camera”, we are not recording images of your face or eyes. See the screenshot on this page for an example.
I am supposed to come to the USC campus to participate. Where exactly do I go?
I am participating in a study that does not take place at USC. Where exactly do I go?
The recruiting flyer or email you received should give you a general location (ex. a university campus), and you should expect to receive a follow-up message or email with details on where to find us from the experimenter(s) the day before you are scheduled to participate.