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Validation of an open source, remote web-based eye-tracking method (WebGazer) for research in early childhood.

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Steffan, Adrian 
Arias-Trejo, Natalia 
Bohn, Manuel 
Dal Ben, Rodrigo 


Measuring eye movements remotely via the participant's webcam promises to be an attractive methodological addition to in-person eye-tracking in the lab. However, there is a lack of systematic research comparing remote web-based eye-tracking with in-lab eye-tracking in young children. We report a multi-lab study that compared these two measures in an anticipatory looking task with toddlers using WebGazer.js and jsPsych. Results of our remotely tested sample of 18-27-month-old toddlers (N = 125) revealed that web-based eye-tracking successfully captured goal-based action predictions, although the proportion of the goal-directed anticipatory looking was lower compared to the in-lab sample (N = 70). As expected, attrition rate was substantially higher in the web-based (42%) than the in-lab sample (10%). Excluding trials based on visual inspection of the match of time-locked gaze coordinates and the participant's webcam video overlayed on the stimuli was an important preprocessing step to reduce noise in the data. We discuss the use of this remote web-based method in comparison with other current methodological innovations. Our study demonstrates that remote web-based eye-tracking can be a useful tool for testing toddlers, facilitating recruitment of larger and more diverse samples; a caveat to consider is the larger drop-out rate.



Humans, Child, Preschool, Infant, Eye-Tracking Technology, Eye Movements, Internet

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Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG RA 2155/7‐1, DFG SCHU 3060/2‐1)
National Institutes of Health (NIH 1R01HD083312, NIH 1R15HD099706)
National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF‐2021R1I1A2051993)
National Science Foundation (NSF CAREER 1653737)