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Rationalising the 'irrational': a think aloud study of discrete choice experiment responses

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Author Info

  • Mandy Ryan

    (Health Economics Research Unit, Institute of Applied Health Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Foresterhill, Aberdeen, UK)

  • Verity Watson

    (Health Economics Research Unit, Institute of Applied Health Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Foresterhill, Aberdeen, UK)

  • Vikki Entwistle

    (Social Dimensions of Health Institute, Universities of Dundee and St Andrews, Dundee, UK)

Abstract

Stated preference methods assume respondents' preferences are consistent with utility theory, but many empirical studies report evidence of preferences that violate utility theory. This evidence is often derived from quantitative tests that occur naturally within, or are added to, stated preference tasks. In this study, we use qualitative methods to explore three axioms of utility theory: completeness, monotonicity, and continuity. We take a novel approach, adopting a 'think aloud' technique to identify violations of the axioms of utility theory and to consider how well the quantitative tests incorporated within a discrete choice experiment are able to detect these. Results indicate that quantitative tests classify respondents as being 'irrational' when qualitative statements would indicate they are 'rational'. In particular, 'non-monotonic' responses can often be explained by respondents inferring additional information beyond what is presented in the task, and individuals who appear to adopt non-compensatory decision-making strategies do so because they rate particular attributes very highly (they are not attempting to simplify the task). The results also provide evidence of 'cost-based responses': respondents assumed tests with higher costs would be of higher quality. The value of including in-depth qualitative validation techniques in the development of stated preference tasks is shown. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1002/hec.1369
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. in its journal Health Economics.

Volume (Year): 18 (2009)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 321-336

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Handle: RePEc:wly:hlthec:v:18:y:2009:i:3:p:321-336

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Web page: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/jhome/5749

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References

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  1. Cam Donaldson & Phil Shackley & Mona Abdalla, 1997. "Using Willingness To Pay To Value Close Substitutes: Carrier Screening for Cystic Fibrosis Revisited," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 6(2), pages 145-159.
  2. Matthew Rabin., 1997. "Psychology and Economics," Economics Working Papers 97-251, University of California at Berkeley.
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  4. Mandy Ryan & Angela Bate, 2001. "Testing the assumptions of rationality, continuity and symmetry when applying discrete choice experiments in health care," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 8(1), pages 59-63.
  5. Mandy Ryan & Fernando San Miguel, 2003. "Revisiting the axiom of completeness in health care," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 12(4), pages 295-307.
  6. Fernando San Miguel & Mandy Ryan & Mabelle Amaya-Amaya, 2005. "'Irrational' stated preferences: a quantitative and qualitative investigation," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 14(3), pages 307-322.
  7. Scott, Anthony & Watson, M. Stuart & Ross, Sue, 2003. "Eliciting preferences of the community for out of hours care provided by general practitioners: a stated preference discrete choice experiment," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 56(4), pages 803-814, February.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Arne Risa Hole, 2010. "A discrete choice model with endogenous attribute attendance," Working Papers 2010006, The University of Sheffield, Department of Economics, revised Feb 2010.
  2. Arne Risa Hole & Julie Riise Kolstad & Dorte Gyrd-Hansen, 2012. "Inferred vs Stated Attribute Non-Attendance in Choice Experiments: A Study of Doctors' Prescription Behaviour," Working Papers 2012010, The University of Sheffield, Department of Economics.
  3. Alessandro Mengoni & Chiara Seghieri & Sabina Nuti, 2013. "The application of discrete choice experiments in health economics: a systematic review of the literature," Working Papers 201301, Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna of Pisa, Istituto di Management.
  4. Al-Janabi, Hareth & Keeley, Thomas & Mitchell, Paul & Coast, Joanna, 2013. "Can capabilities be self-reported? A think aloud study," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 116-122.
  5. Mohammed Hussen Alemu & Morten Raun Mørkbak & Søren Bøye Olsen & Carsten Lynge Jensen, 2011. "Attending to the reasons for attribute non-attendance in Choice Experiments," IFRO Working Paper 2011/8, University of Copenhagen, Department of Food and Resource Economics.
  6. Benning, Tim M. & Dellaert, Benedict G.C., 2013. "Paying more for faster care? Individuals' attitude toward price-based priority access in health care," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 119-128.
  7. Börjesson, Maria & Fosgerau, Mogens & Algers, Staffan, 2012. "Catching the tail: Empirical identification of the distribution of the value of travel time," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 378-391.
  8. Charles Cunningham & Ken Deal & Yvonne Chen, 2010. "Adaptive Choice-Based Conjoint Analysis," The Patient: Patient-Centered Outcomes Research, Springer, vol. 3(4), pages 257-273, December.
  9. Marsh, Dan & Mkwara, Lena Asimenye & Scarpa, Riccardo, 2010. "Does respondent’s perceived knowledge of the status quo affect attribute attendance and WTP in choice experiments? Evidence from the Karapiro Catchment Freshwater streams," 2010 Conference, August 26-27, 2010, Nelson, New Zealand 96809, New Zealand Agricultural and Resource Economics Society.
  10. LUYTEN, Jeroen & KESSELS, Roselinde & GOOS, Peter & BEUTELS, Philippe, 2013. "Public preferences for prioritizing preventive and curative health care interventions: A discrete choice experiment," Working Papers 2013032, University of Antwerp, Faculty of Applied Economics.

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