Doing Psychological Science by Hand

Jonathan B. Freeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Over the past decade, mouse tracking in choice tasks has become a popular method across psychological science. This method exploits hand movements as a measure of multiple response activations that can be tracked continuously over hundreds of milliseconds. Whereas early mouse-tracking research focused on specific debates, researchers have realized that the methodology has far broader theoretical value. This more recent work demonstrates that mouse tracking is a widely applicable measure across the field, capable of exposing the microstructure of real-time decisions, including their component processes and millisecond-resolution time course, in ways that inform theory. In this article, recent advances in the mouse-tracking approach are described, and comparisons with the gold standard measure of reaction time and other temporally sensitive methodologies are provided. Future directions, including mapping to neural representations with brain imaging and ways to improve our theoretical understanding of mouse-tracking methodology, are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)315-323
Number of pages9
JournalCurrent Directions in Psychological Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018


  • decision making
  • hand movement
  • mouse tracking
  • reaction time
  • temporal dynamics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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