The analysis of movement trajectories has long been recognized as an invaluable method to study cognitive, affective, and motivational states of the acting agent. Until recently, however, such approaches necessitated specialized equipment, confining the method to a small group of advanced users. Matters changed with the advent of studies that focus on tracking participants’ hand- and mouse-movements, which provide an unobtrusive and easily accessible measure for an individual’s action intentions and decisional uncertainty. Over the past decade, hand- and mouse-tracking has become an increasingly popular tool in a variety of psychological domains.
The aim of this symposium is threefold: First, we will introduce hand- and mouse-tracking to interested researchers, outlining the theoretical assumptions behind the method and demonstrating easy-to-use, open-source software for experimental design and analysis. Second, we will provide an overview of selected topics that have been fruitfully studied with hand- and mouse-tracking, from basic cognitive research on human action control and decision making to applied settings involving surveillance tasks and rule violations in clinically relevant samples. Third, we will present advanced methods for analyzing hand- and mouse-tracking data that allow for more fine-grained conclusions about the underlying cognitive processes. This includes a time-continuous multiple regression method for extracting dynamic markers for different processes and a spatial clustering method for distinguishing between different types of movement trajectories.
In sum, we aim to show with this symposium that the method of hand- and mouse-tracking can be applied to a broad range of scientific questions across many different areas of psychological research, and that recent developments make it easy and straightforward to enrich own research with corresponding designs.