IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Attribute Conflict and Preference Uncertainty: Effects on Judgment Time and Error


  • Gregory W. Fischer

    () (Fuqua School of Business, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina 27708)

  • Mary Frances Luce

    () (The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104)

  • Jianmin Jia

    () (Faculty of Business Administration, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, NT, Hong Kong)


This research investigates preference uncertainty generated as a function of specific alternative characteristics during multiattribute evaluative judgments. We propose that preference uncertainty has at least two behavioral manifestations: longer judgment times and greater response error in expressed preferences. We investigate two hypotheses regarding stimulus-based causes of preference uncertainty. As predicted by our attribute conflict hypothesis, greater within-alternative conflict (discrepancy among the attributes of an evaluative alternative) led to longer judgment times and greater response error. As predicted by our attribute extremity hypothesis, greater attribute extremity (very high or low attribute values) resulted in shorter judgment times and less response error. We also found that judgment times and response errors were strongly positively correlated at the item level, consistent with our assumption that preference uncertainty generated by stimulus characteristics is manifested in judgment time and error. Finally, we found that the item-level preference uncertainty effects proposed here operate in parallel with strategy-level, effort-accuracy tradeoffs observable across participants. These findings are consistent with the RandMAU random multiattribute utility model developed in a companion article by Fischer et al. (2000).

Suggested Citation

  • Gregory W. Fischer & Mary Frances Luce & Jianmin Jia, 2000. "Attribute Conflict and Preference Uncertainty: Effects on Judgment Time and Error," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 46(1), pages 88-103, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:46:y:2000:i:1:p:88-103

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Loomes, Graham & Sugden, Robert, 1982. "Regret Theory: An Alternative Theory of Rational Choice under Uncertainty," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 92(368), pages 805-824, December.
    2. Kathryn Blackmond Laskey & Gregory W. Fischer, 1987. "Estimating Utility Functions in the Presence of Response Error," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 33(8), pages 965-980, August.
    3. Gregory W. Fischer & Ziv Carmon & Dan Ariely & Gal Zauberman, 1999. "Goal-Based Construction of Preferences: Task Goals and the Prominence Effect," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 45(8), pages 1057-1075, August.
    4. Luce, Mary Frances, 1998. " Choosing to Avoid: Coping with Negatively Emotion-Laden Consumer Decisions," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 24(4), pages 409-433, March.
    5. James G. March, 1978. "Bounded Rationality, Ambiguity, and the Engineering of Choice," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 9(2), pages 587-608, Autumn.
    6. Gregory W. Fischer & Jianmin Jia & Mary Frances Luce, 2000. "Attribute Conflict and Preference Uncertainty: The RandMAU Model," Management Science, INFORMS, pages 669-684.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Kräussl, Roman & Lucas, André & Siegmann, Arjen, 2012. "Risk aversion under preference uncertainty," Finance Research Letters, Elsevier, pages 1-7.
    2. Gregory W. Fischer & Jianmin Jia & Mary Frances Luce, 2000. "Attribute Conflict and Preference Uncertainty: The RandMAU Model," Management Science, INFORMS, pages 669-684.
    3. repec:spr:grdene:v:20:y:2011:i:6:d:10.1007_s10726-010-9188-4 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Conlon, B.J. & Dellaert, B.G.C. & van Soest, A.H.O., 2001. "Complexity and Accuracy in Consumer Choice : The Double Benefits of Being the Consistently Better Brand," Discussion Paper 2001-54, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    5. Erik Maier & Robert Wilken & Florian Dost, 2015. "The double benefits of consumer certainty: combining risk and range effects," Marketing Letters, Springer, vol. 26(4), pages 473-488, December.
    6. Simsek, Zeki & Lubatkin, Michael H. & Veiga, John F. & Dino, Richard N., 2009. "The role of an entrepreneurially alert information system in promoting corporate entrepreneurship," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 62(8), pages 810-817, August.
    7. Philippe Delquié, 2003. "Optimal Conflict in Preference Assessment," Management Science, INFORMS, pages 102-115.
    8. Haiyan Xu & Keith Hipel & D. Kilgour & Ye Chen, 2010. "Combining strength and uncertainty for preferences in the graph model for conflict resolution with multiple decision makers," Theory and Decision, Springer, pages 497-521.
    9. Manel Baucells & Rakesh K. Sarin, 2003. "Group Decisions with Multiple Criteria," Management Science, INFORMS, pages 1105-1118.
    10. Richard M. Anderson & Benjamin F. Hobbs, 2002. "Using a Bayesian Approach to Quantify Scale Compatibility Bias," Management Science, INFORMS, pages 1555-1568.
    11. repec:eee:intfor:v:33:y:2017:i:3:p:652-661 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Deparis, Stéphane & Mousseau, Vincent & Öztürk, Meltem & Pallier, Christophe & Huron, Caroline, 2012. "When conflict induces the expression of incomplete preferences," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 221(3), pages 593-602.
    13. Palmeira, Mauricio M. & Krishnan, H. Shanker, 2008. "Criteria instability and the isolated option effect," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 106(2), pages 153-167, July.
    14. Scholten, Marc, 2002. "Conflict-mediated choice," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 88(2), pages 683-718, July.
    15. Conlon, B.J. & Dellaert, B.G.C. & van Soest, A.H.O., 2001. "Optimal Effort in Consumer Choice : Theory and Experimental Evidence for Binary Choice," Discussion Paper 2001-51, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    16. Elie Ofek & Muhamet Yildiz & Ernan Haruvy, 2007. "The Impact of Prior Decisions on Subsequent Valuations in a Costly Contemplation Model," Management Science, INFORMS, pages 1217-1233.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:46:y:2000:i:1:p:88-103. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Mirko Janc). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.