Incentive-aligned conjoint analysis
Because most conjoint studies are conducted in hypothetical situations with no consumption consequences for the participants, the extent to which the studies are able to uncover "true" consumer preference structures is questionable. Experimental economics literature, with its emphasis on incentive alignment and hypothetical bias, suggests that more realistic incentive aligned studies will result in stronger out-of-sample predictive performance of actual purchase behaviors and provide better estimates of consumer preference structures than hypothetical studies. To test this hypothesis, the authors design an experiment with conventional (hypothetical) conditions and their parallel incentive-aligned counterparts. Using Chinese dinner specials as the context, the authors conducted a field experiment in a Chinese restaurant during dinnertime. The results provide strong evidence in favor of incentive-aligned choice conjoint analysis, in that incentive-aligned choice conjoint outperforms hypothetical choice conjoint in out-of-sample predictions (59% versus 26% for incentive-aligned choice conjoint and hypothetical choice conjoint, respectively for the top two choices). As expected, subjects in the incentive-aligned choice condition exhibit preference structures that are systematically different from the preference structures of subjects in the hypothetical condition. Most notably, the subjects in the incentive-aligned choice condition are more price sensitive and exhibit different heterogeneity patterns. To determine the robustness of these results, the authors conducted a second study that used snacks as the context and only considered the choice treatments. This study confirmed the results by again providing strong evidence in favor of incentive-aligned choice analysis in out-of-sample predictions (36% versus 16% for incentive-aligned choice conjoint and hypothetical choice conjoint, respectively for the top two choices). The results provide a strong motivation for conjoint practitioners to consider conducting their studies in realistic settings using incentive structures that require participants to live with their decisions.
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- Smith, Vernon L & Walker, James M, 1993. "Monetary Rewards and Decision Cost in Experimental Economics," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 31(2), pages 245-61, April.
- John A. List, 2001.
"Do Explicit Warnings Eliminate the Hypothetical Bias in Elicitation Procedures? Evidence from Field Auctions for Sportscards,"
American Economic Review,
American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1498-1507, December.
- John List, 2001. "Do explicit warnings eliminate the hypothetical bias in elicitation procedures? Evidence from field auctions for sportscards," Framed Field Experiments 00163, The Field Experiments Website.
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