Examining Attentional Biases Elicited by Sexual Stimuli Using MouseView.js: An Online Paradigm to Mimic Eye Movements

Sonia Milani, Thomas Armstrong, Edwin Dalmaijer, Alexander Anwyl-Irvine, Samantha J. Dawson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


Attention is a key mechanism underlying many aspects of sexuality, with eye-tracking studies revealing that attention is both sustained by sexual stimuli and corresponds with sexual interest. Despite its utility, eye-tracking experiments typically require specialized equipment and are conducted in a laboratory setting. The overarching objective of this research was to assess the utility of a novel online method, MouseView.js, for assessing attentional processing of sexual stimuli outside of a laboratory context. MouseView.js is an open-source, web-based application where the display is blurred to mimic peripheral vision and an aperture is directed using a mouse cursor to fixate on regions of interest within the display. Using a discovery (Study 1, n = 239) and replication (Study 2, n = 483) design, we examined attentional biases to sexual stimuli among two diverse samples with respect to gender/sex and sexual orientation. Results revealed strong attentional biases toward processing sexual stimuli relative to nonsexual stimuli, as well as dwell times that correlated with self-report sexuality measures. Results mirror those observed for laboratory-based eye-tracking research, but using a freely available instrument that mirrors gaze tracking. MouseView.js offers important advantages to traditional eye-tracking methods, including the ability to recruit larger and more diverse samples, and minimizes volunteer biases.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Sex Research
Early online date23 May 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 May 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality.

Structured keywords

  • Mind and Brain (Psychological Science)
  • Self and Society (Psychological Science)


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