Tuesday, November 19, 2019

STIP Student Jessica Donough uses Eye Tracking Software to Analyze the Impacts of Youth Oriented Packaging on Underage Drinking

The summer impact team that I am working on is investigating the how significantly youth oriented packaging can contribute to underage drinking. I was initially interested by the project because eye-tracking is the main method of data collection being employed. This physiological measure, in addition to participants’ subjective survey information and behavioral response measures, will give us a good picture of how salient, or attention catching these bright and youthful products are to underage consumers.

I am a Psychology student with a concentration in Human Factors, and see eye-tracking as a very useful tool that objectively tells you where an individual’s attention is being directed. This kind of information can be used to evaluate products and processes and subsequently inform their improved design. The combination of objective and subjective data collection helps to create a holistic understanding of what works well for a user and what does not.

As the Impact team that I am working on is comprised of seven other undergraduate students, we decided to each discuss a different aspect of our day to day work on this project. I will be talking about the process of coding our experiment images for regions of interest, or ROIs. When collecting eye tracking data, it is important to identify what areas of the screen that you are interested in collecting data from. In the case of this project, we needed to distinguish what regions of our images contained alcoholic drinks as well as any other youth oriented packaging such as energy drinks. This was done using a Python program developed by Dr. Peterson. Participants were shown 112 total images, many of which depicted complex environments like a grocery store, so that ecological validity could be maintained. It was our job to draw out the regions of interest in each scene and then categorize them based on its features (i.e. youthful, colorful, salient).

In this project, it was exciting to see how this kind of data could be applied to inform policy, rather than a consumer product. While our project is still on-going, we hope its findings will have an impact on public health and alcohol abuse.