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

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  • 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Mandy Ryan & Verity Watson & Vikki Entwistle, 2009. "Rationalising the 'irrational': a think aloud study of discrete choice experiment responses," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(3), pages 321-336.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:hlthec:v:18:y:2009:i:3:p:321-336
    DOI: 10.1002/hec.1369
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Mohammed Alemu & Morten Mørkbak & Søren Olsen & Carsten Jensen, 2013. "Attending to the Reasons for Attribute Non-attendance in Choice Experiments," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 54(3), pages 333-359, March.
    2. Börger, Tobias & Hattam, Caroline & Burdon, Daryl & Atkins, Jonathan P. & Austen, Melanie C., 2014. "Valuing conservation benefits of an offshore marine protected area," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 229-241.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. Mehdi Ammi & Christine Peyron, 2016. "Heterogeneity in general practitioners’ preferences for quality improvement programs: a choice experiment and policy simulation in France," Health Economics Review, Springer, vol. 6(1), pages 1-11, December.
    6. Rocamora, Beatriz & Colombo, Sergio & Glenk, Klaus, 2014. "El impacto de las respuestas inconsistentes en las medidas de bienestar estimadas con el método del experimento de elección," Economia Agraria y Recursos Naturales, Spanish Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 14(2).
    7. Charles Cunningham & Ken Deal & Yvonne Chen, 2010. "Adaptive Choice-Based Conjoint Analysis," The Patient: Patient-Centered Outcomes Research, Springer;Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, vol. 3(4), pages 257-273, December.
    8. 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.
    9. Hole, Arne Risa, 2011. "A discrete choice model with endogenous attribute attendance," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 110(3), pages 203-205, March.
    10. 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.
    11. Ewan Gray & Martin Eden & Caroline Vass & Marion McAllister & Jordan Louviere & Katherine Payne, 2016. "Valuing Preferences for the Process and Outcomes of Clinical Genetics Services: A Pilot Study," The Patient: Patient-Centered Outcomes Research, Springer;Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, vol. 9(2), pages 135-147, April.
    12. repec:gam:jsusta:v:10:y:2018:i:6:p:1704-:d:148612 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Emily Lancsar & Joffre Swait, 2014. "Reconceptualising the External Validity of Discrete Choice Experiments," PharmacoEconomics, Springer, vol. 32(10), pages 951-965, October.
    14. Hole, Arne Risa & Kolstad, Julie Riise & Gyrd-Hansen, Dorte, 2013. "Inferred vs. stated attribute non-attendance in choice experiments: A study of doctors’ prescription behaviour," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 96(C), pages 21-31.
    15. Erdem, Seda & Campbell, Danny & Thompson, Carl, 2014. "Elimination and selection by aspects in health choice experiments: Prioritising health service innovations," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 10-22.
    16. Erdem, Seda & Campbell, Danny & Thompson, Carl, 2014. "Addressing elimination and selection by aspects decision rules in discrete choice experiments: does it matter?," 2014 Annual Meeting, July 27-29, 2014, Minneapolis, Minnesota 169839, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    17. Mandy Ryan & Karen Gerard & Gillian Currie, 2012. "Using Discrete Choice Experiments in Health Economics," Chapters,in: The Elgar Companion to Health Economics, Second Edition, chapter 41 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    18. 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.
    19. repec:eee:ecoser:v:18:y:2016:i:c:p:45-57 is not listed on IDEAS
    20. 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.
    21. Jennifer Whitty, 2012. "Insensitivity to Scope in Contingent Valuation Studies," Applied Health Economics and Health Policy, Springer, vol. 10(6), pages 361-363, November.

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