This chapter provides an overview of the fundamentals, theories, and application of eye tracking as a method of communication and media studies. The examined “object for analysis” – the process of visual perception – is understood here as a multidimensional phenomenon, to which justice can be done only through a multifaceted theoretical foundation. An approach to the method of eye tracking must therefore start with theoretical considerations on the physiological and psychological aspects of (visual) perception and cognition. The chapter then elaborates on the implications of these theoretical considerations with regards to operationalization, analysis, and interpretation of the eye-tracking data. Finally, it discusses and critically assesses specific examples of studies employing eye tracking to illustrate how the method may be applied to media studies research.
Although the method of eye tracking does not yet constitute a standard instrument of media studies, in recent years it has been repeatedly used for analyzing the reception of media and its effects, and its implementation in research designs is increasing. The improvements in eye-tracking technology, especially the availability of easier to handle, faster, and more accurate eye trackers, as well as the decline of acquisition costs, have inspired eye-tracking studies in the field ...