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Decision heuristic or preference? Attribute non‐attendance in discrete choice problems

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  • Sebastian Heidenreich
  • Verity Watson
  • Mandy Ryan
  • Euan Phimister

Abstract

This paper investigates if respondents' choice to not consider all characteristics of a multiattribute health service may represent preferences. Over the last decade, an increasing number of studies account for attribute non‐attendance (ANA) when using discrete choice experiments to elicit individuals' preferences. Most studies assume such behaviour is a heuristic and therefore uninformative. This assumption may result in misleading welfare estimates if ANA reflects preferences. This is the first paper to assess if ANA is a heuristic or genuine preference without relying on respondents' self‐stated motivation and the first study to explore this question within a health context. Based on findings from cognitive psychology, we expect that familiar respondents are less likely to use a decision heuristic to simplify choices than unfamiliar respondents. We employ a latent class model of discrete choice experiment data concerned with National Health Service managers' preferences for support services that assist with performance concerns. We present quantitative and qualitative evidence that in our study ANA mostly represents preferences. We also show that wrong assumptions about ANA result in inadequate welfare measures that can result in suboptimal policy advice. Future research should proceed with caution when assuming that ANA is a heuristic.

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  • Sebastian Heidenreich & Verity Watson & Mandy Ryan & Euan Phimister, 2018. "Decision heuristic or preference? Attribute non‐attendance in discrete choice problems," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 27(1), pages 157-171, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:hlthec:v:27:y:2018:i:1:p:157-171
    DOI: 10.1002/hec.3524
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    3. Genie, Mesfin G. & Ryan, Mandy & Krucien, Nicolas, 2021. "To pay or not to pay? Cost information processing in the valuation of publicly funded healthcare," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 276(C).
    4. Villamayor-Tomas, Sergio & Sagebiel, Julian & Olschewski, Roland, 2019. "Bringing the neighbors in: A choice experiment on the influence of coordination and social norms on farmers’ willingness to accept agro-environmental schemes across Europe," Land Use Policy, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 200-215.
    5. Mesfin G. Genie & Nicolas Krucien & Mandy Ryan, 2021. "Weighting or aggregating? Investigating information processing in multi‐attribute choices," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 30(6), pages 1291-1305, June.
    6. Logar, Ivana & Brouwer, Roy & Campbell, Danny, 2020. "Does attribute order influence attribute-information processing in discrete choice experiments?," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(C).
    7. G Andrew Stainback & John H Lai & Elizabeth F Pienaar & Damian C Adam & Ruscena Wiederholt & Chloe’ Vorseth, 2020. "Public preferences for ecological indicators used in Everglades restoration," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 15(6), pages 1-23, June.

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