Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Maria Hartwig

Subject Categories



eye tracking, malintent, visual attention


Malintent is a relatively unexplored phenomenon, despite the practical and theoretical interest in its detection. The four studies presented here, informed by the Guilty Knowledge Test and Guided Search model of visual attention, illustrate how eye tracking can (and cannot) be utilized to detect malicious intent. Malintent, induced in two different mock crime paradigms (murder; theft), boosted the frequency and duration of fixations that fell upon objects relevant to their task. The size of the malintent effect ranged from moderate (fixation duration) to large (fixation frequency). The increased visual attention given to task-relevant objects was not unique to malintent; benign intent individuals, given the same task to perform without the transgressive framing, showed similar gaze patterns when they were unaware of the eye-tracking equipment. When made aware that their gaze was being tracked, those with malintent successfully avoided looking at the task-relevant object, while those with benign intent looked at it more often. The large moderating effect of eye-tracking awareness on the malintent effect poses both a challenge and an opportunity to the successful detection of malintent.

Included in

Psychology Commons



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