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Are inconsistent decisions better? An experiment with pairwise comparisons


  • Linares, Pedro


This paper tries to contribute to the well-known and lengthy discussion on whether we should allow decision makers to be inconsistent, or, to put it in another way, if intransitive decisions better represent their preferences. We will focus specifically on the multiple-criteria decision making problem, since it is one of the most usual stances where this intransitivity appears. Results from an experiment carried out with graduate students shows that, when intransitivities are removed, the preferences of decision makers are not better represented, and therefore that the effort to do so may not be justified.

Suggested Citation

  • Linares, Pedro, 2009. "Are inconsistent decisions better? An experiment with pairwise comparisons," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 193(2), pages 492-498, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ejores:v:193:y:2009:i:2:p:492-498

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. James S. Dyer, 1990. "Remarks on the Analytic Hierarchy Process," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 36(3), pages 249-258, March.
    2. Fishburn, Peter C & LaValle, Irving H, 1988. "Context-Dependent Choice with Nonlinear and Nontransitive Preferences," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(5), pages 1221-1239, September.
    3. Fishburn, Peter C, 1991. "Nontransitive Preferences in Decision Theory," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 4(2), pages 113-134, April.
    4. Gonzalez-Pachon, Jacinto & Romero, Carlos, 2004. "A method for dealing with inconsistencies in pairwise comparisons," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 158(2), pages 351-361, October.
    5. Tversky, Amos & Slovic, Paul & Kahneman, Daniel, 1990. "The Causes of Preference Reversal," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(1), pages 204-217, March.
    6. James S. Dyer, 1990. "A Clarification of "Remarks on the Analytic Hierarchy Process"," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 36(3), pages 274-275, March.
    7. Shafer, Wayne J, 1974. "The Nontransitive Consumer," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 42(5), pages 913-919, September.
    8. Yoram Wind & Thomas L. Saaty, 1980. "Marketing Applications of the Analytic Hierarchy Process," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 26(7), pages 641-658, July.
    9. Tversky, Amos & Thaler, Richard H, 1990. "Anomalies: Preference Reversals," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 4(2), pages 201-211, Spring.
    10. Slovic, Paul & Lichtenstein, Sarah, 1983. "Preference Reversals: A Broader Perspective," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(4), pages 596-605, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ishizaka, Alessio & Siraj, Sajid & Nemery, Philippe, 2016. "Which energy mix for the UK (United Kingdom)? An evolutive descriptive mapping with the integrated GAIA (graphical analysis for interactive aid)–AHP (analytic hierarchy process) visualization tool," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 602-611.
    2. Lundström, Johanna & Öhman, Karin & Rönnqvist, Mikael & Gustafsson, Lena, 2014. "How reserve selection is affected by preferences in Swedish boreal forests," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 40-50.
    3. repec:spr:annopr:v:245:y:2016:i:1:d:10.1007_s10479-014-1767-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Ergu, Daji & Kou, Gang & Peng, Yi & Shi, Yong, 2011. "A simple method to improve the consistency ratio of the pair-wise comparison matrix in ANP," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 213(1), pages 246-259, August.
    5. Andrés Calizaya & Oliver Meixner & Lars Bengtsson & Ronny Berndtsson, 2010. "Multi-criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) for Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) in the Lake Poopo Basin, Bolivia," Water Resources Management: An International Journal, Published for the European Water Resources Association (EWRA), Springer;European Water Resources Association (EWRA), vol. 24(10), pages 2267-2289, August.


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