Where are You Watching? Patterns of Visual Exploration in the Ultimatum Game

Daniela Villani*, 1, Davide Massaro2, Ilaria Castelli2, Antonella Marchetti2
1 Department of Psychology, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, L.go Gemelli 1, 20123, Milano, Italy
2 Research Unit on Theory of Mind, Department of Psychology, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, L.go Gemelli, 1, 20123 Milano, Italy

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Creative Commons License
© 2013 Daniela Villani.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: ( This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Kasetsart Agricultural and Agro-Industrial Product Improvement Institute (KAPI), Kasetsart University, 50, Chatuchak, Bangkok, 10900, Thailand; Tel./Fax. 66-2942- 8599; E-mail:,


The study aimed to advance the traditional issue of identifying decision strategy by analyzing the information processing in terms of visual exploration patterns. Twenty-seven participants played as responders in a computerized version of Ultimatum Game with an anonymous virtual partner.

Responders tended to reject unfair offers, probably due to their taste for fairness and to the unidentifiability of the other player that reduced the willingness to cooperate. Furthermore, according to the evolutionary approach, participants focused their attention more at themselves than at the partner. Among the three type of offers – hyperfair, fair and unfair – mid-value offers, such as fair ones, required more number of fixations and fixations duration, related to the more complex cognitive and reasoning processes involved.

Implications of this study could be applied in decisional settings with anonymous partners, such as those online, with future studies confirming the results found and integrating them through other process tracing methodologies.

Keywords: Decision-Making, Eye Tracker, Fairness, Reciprocity, Ultimatum Game, Visual Patterns.