Computer mouse movements 'reveal whether you're a risk-taker', study says

A person's secret impulse to take a risk can be spotted simply by the way they move a computer mouse across a screen, a new study shows.  

In computerised gambling experiments, US participants had a choice of either clicking on a 'safe' option or a 'risky' option as they built up monetary rewards. 

Researchers say that someone whose mouse drifted toward the safe option on the computer screen – even when they ended up taking the risky bet – are more risk-averse than their final choice indicated. 

Meanwhile, those who moved the mouse toward the risk before accepting the safe option may be more open to risk than it seems. 

People who ultimately click on the safe option are unlikely to be bigger risk-takers than those who ultimately choose the risk – but the subconscious mouse-tracking experiments does reveal hidden impulses. 

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For example, a big city trader whose cursor flits towards a safe bet online may not be as cut out for their job as they seem. 

Meanwhile, online gamblers who engage in lots of mouse movements when they have to make a key decision could be feeling 'internal conflict'. 

Mouse movements could reveal secrets and 'internal conflict' regarding how much you like to take risk

Mouse movements could reveal secrets and 'internal conflict' regarding how much you like to take risk

'We could see the conflict people were feeling making the choice through their hand movements with the mouse,' said study author Paul Stillman at Ohio State University.

'How much their hand is drawn to the choice they didn't make can reveal a lot about how difficult the decision was for them.'

While this study looked at mouse trajectories, the experts suggest other motor movements might also provide information about our decision-making.

'Scrolling on a phone may also provide information on how people are making a decision,' said Dr Ian Krajbich, Associate Professor of psychology and economics at Ohio State.

'What we're measuring is a physical manifestation of hesitation. Anything like that, such as scrolling, could yield a similar glimpse of this internal conflict.' 

For their experiments, researchers measured the mouse movements of 652 people as they made 215 decisions on various gambles. 

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On a computer screen, participants could either

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