Item Features Interact With Item Category in Their Influence on Preferences

Shiran Oren, Tal Sela, Dino J. Levy, Tom Schonberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Low-level visual features are known to play a role in value-based decision-making. However, most previous studies focused on the role of only a single low-level feature or only for one type of item. These studies also used only one method of measurement and provided a theory accounting for those specific findings. We aimed to utilize a different more robust approach. We tested the contribution of low-level visual features to value-based decision-making of three item types: fractal-art images, faces, and snack food items. We used two techniques to estimate values: subjective ratings and actual choices. We found that low-level visual features contribute to value-based decision-making even after controlling for higher level features relevant for each item category (for faces, features like eye distance and for food snacks, features like price and calories). Importantly, we show that, overall, while low-level visual features consistently contribute to value-based decision-making as was previously shown, different features distinctively contribute to preferences of specific item types, as was evident when we estimated values using both techniques. We claim that theories relying on the role of single features for individual item types do not capture the complexity of the contribution of low-level visual features to value-based decision-making. Our conclusions call for future studies using multiple item types and various measurement methods for estimating value in order to modify current theories and construct a unifying framework regarding the relationship between low-level visual features and choice.

Original languageEnglish
Article number988
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
StatePublished - 23 Jul 2020


  • decision-making
  • faces
  • fractal-art
  • preference
  • replications
  • snacks
  • visual-features

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology


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