Erik Wästlund new Associate Professor at Karlstad University2016-04-25
Erik Wästlund has been promoted to Associate Professor of Psychology at Karlstad University. His research focuses on decision-making and consumer behavior by using eye-tracking and has been recognized both internationally and nationally, for example the attention to his research on how we process text we read on paper vs screen in Scientific American, and in mid-march when he was interviewed on local television where he spoke about the local “currency” in a town in the region.
- Basically, my research focuses on decision making and what effect it has on us when we make our choices. Since very many activities involve some form of choice, the results of my research is used in such diverse fields as web page design to the design of stores, and also to design facilities for the disabled. In all cases, it is about making it easier for individuals to find and absorb information that can be useful. Much of my research is based on eye-tracking. The exciting thing about this type of technology is that we can learn what it is in the environment that catches someone’s attention and thus can influence decision-making. The most surprising in these studies is how little of what actually happens in a store that is noticed by the customers during a visit, says Erik Wästlund
Focus on retail
- At the end of last year the report “Decision-making in the store –the limitations and importance of vision and attention” was released by The Swedish Retail and Wholesale Council. In the project the researchers followed consumers through the store using eye-tracking, which registers the person’s eye-movement. By these measurements the researchers were able to follow what the customers were looking at in detail, what they paid attention to and how it affected their decisions.
In addition to eye-tracking, Erik uses other types of technology in his research, such as Ibeacon, Gamifiaction and Oculus Rift. Different types of technology that can be used to create new and better customer experiences and new ways for stores to interact with the customers.
An example of this type of research is carried out together with the company Stamford in effort to develop new mobile solutions using Ibeacon. Through technology, customers receive relevant information and special offers sent to their mobile phone based on their position in the store. The project also looks at how to combine Ibeacon technology with gamification, classic game elements.
Internationally acclaimed research on paper vs. screen
Erik’s research on how we humans process text electronically, via tablets or computer screens, and the problems associated with it, was recognized internationally in the New York Times, Wired and Scientific American in 2014. The studies are based on his doctoral thesis “Experimental studies of human-computer interaction: Working memory and mental workload in complex cognition” (2007), which is about how we process text that we read via paper or screen. The studies showed that the design of the information and the page-layout are crucial to how easy or difficult it is for readers to absorb information.
Researcher and entrepreneur
Erik is also the CEO and co-founder of EyeGo, a company that developed a system to run and control a wheelchair by using the eyes. The system is based on a computer screen with an eye-tracking system, and by using this technology disabled are able to move and communicate with the outside world.