An examination of recording accuracy and precision from eye tracking data from toddlerhood to adulthood

Kirsten A. Dalrymple, Marie D. Manner, Katherine A. Harmelink, Elayne P. Teska, Jed T. Elison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


The quantitative assessment of eye tracking data quality is critical for ensuring accuracy and precision of gaze position measurements. However, researchers often report the eye tracker's optimal manufacturer's specifications rather than empirical data about the accuracy and precision of the eye tracking data being presented. Indeed, a recent report indicates that less than half of eye tracking researchers surveyed take the eye tracker's accuracy into account when determining areas of interest for analysis, an oversight that could impact the validity of reported results and conclusions. Accordingly, we designed a calibration verification protocol to augment independent quality assessment of eye tracking data and examined whether accuracy and precision varied between three age groups of participants. We also examined the degree to which our externally quantified quality assurance metrics aligned with those reported by the manufacturer. We collected data in standard laboratory conditions to demonstrate our method, to illustrate how data quality can vary with participant age, and to give a simple example of the degree to which data quality can differ from manufacturer reported values. In the sample data we collected, accuracy for adults was within the range advertised by the manufacturer, but for school-aged children, accuracy and precision measures were outside this range. Data from toddlers were less accurate and less precise than data from adults. Based on an a priori inclusion criterion, we determined that we could exclude approximately 20% of toddler participants for poor calibration quality quantified using our calibration assessment protocol. We recommend implementing and reporting quality assessment protocols for any eye tracking tasks with participants of any age or developmental ability. We conclude with general observations about our data, recommendations for what factors to consider when establishing data inclusion criteria, and suggestions for stimulus design that can help accommodate variability in calibration. The methods outlined here may be particularly useful for developmental psychologists who use eye tracking as a tool, but who are not experts in eye tracking per se. The calibration verification stimuli and data processing scripts that we developed, along with step-by-step instructions, are freely available for other researchers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number803
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Issue numberMAY
StatePublished - May 23 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Dalrymple, Manner, Harmelink, Teska and Elison.


  • Calibration
  • Development
  • Eye tracking
  • Methods
  • Quality assessment
  • Toddlers


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