Eye-Tracking and Mindset

Replication Study "Visual Attention and Goal Pursuit: Deliberative and Implemental Mindset Affect Breadth of Attention" (Büttner et al., 2014)

The mindset theory of action phases (e.g., Gollwitzer, 2012) postulates that making a decision about which goal to pursue represents a different phase of action than implementing a chosen goal. In each action phase, a specific mindset is triggered, providing a particular set of cognitive procedures that support solving the task at hand. The task to make a decision about which goal to pursuit is supported by a generally broader focus on all available information (deliberative mindset). On the other hand, the task to act towards achieving this goal is best supported by a more narrow focus on the goal and corresponding relevant information (implemental mindset).

Accordingly, research has shown that deliberative versus implemental mindsets have differential influences on how information is encoded, processed, and retrieved. In this vein, mindset theory also posits that both mindsets already differ at the level of visual attention. Individuals in the deliberative mindset should be receptive to all information, while individuals in the implemental mindset should be receptive only to goal-relevant information while ignoring goal-irrelevant distractions. Importantly, these mindsets may carry over to other tasks, meaning that a mindset triggered by one particular task may also influence behavior on subsequent, seemingly unrelated, tasks.

Büttner and colleagues (2014) tested these assumptions by manipulating the mindset of subjects and assessing how they visually perceived subsequently presented pictures, with the use of eye-tracking techniques. In accordance with expectations, individuals in a deliberative mindset evenly explored the whole scene and thus spread their visual attention equally over the whole picture. On the other hand, individuals in an implemental mindset focused more on specific information and thus the foreground of the pictures.

In the present research, we aim at replicating the findings of Büttner and colleagues (2014). This could further strengthen the support for the mindset theory and its assumption that the different action phases in the pursuit of a goal lead to fundamentally different modes of perception and information processing.


Büttner, O. B., Wieber, F., Schulz, A. M., Bayer, U. C., Florack, A., & Gollwitzer, P. M. (2014). Visual attention and goal pursuit: Deliberative and implemental mindsets affect breadth of attention. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 40(10), 1248-1259.

Project Team