Factors influencing viewing behaviour on search engine results pages: a review of eye-tracking research

Dirk Lewandowski, Yvonne Kammerer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Eye-tracking research is beneficial for better understanding user behaviour in search engines. The present paper presents a comprehensive narrative literature review of eye-tracking studies examining factors influencing users’ viewing behaviour on results pages of search engines. Discipline-specific databases from Psychology, Computer Science, and Library and Information Science, as well as one multidisciplinary database have been searched for relevant articles. Criteria for inclusion were that a paper reported empirical results from an eye-tracking study in which effects of a specific factor on users’ viewing behaviour on search engine results pages (SERPs) were examined, with inferential statistical results being reported. This led to a set of 41 papers that were further examined. The papers were grouped into three categories according to three types of factors that may affect individuals’ web search activities: contextual factors, resource factors, and individual factors. Papers were assigned to these categories and subsequently to sub-categories. Overall, while for some sub-categories robust findings can be reported, we found results in many sub-categories to be inconclusive. For future research, we recommend a shift from small-scale studies examining single factors to more comprehensive and theory-driven research using larger sample sizes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1485-1515
Number of pages31
JournalBehaviour & Information Technology
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 26 Oct 2021


  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Search engines
  • eye-tracking research
  • literature review
  • search engine results pages (SERPs)


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