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Differential Attention to Attributes in Utility-theoretic Choice Models

Listed author(s):
  • Trudy Ann Cameron


    (University of Oregon Economics Department)

  • J.R. DeShazo


    (School of Public Affairs, UCLA)

We show in a theoretical model that benefits of allocating additional attention to evaluating the marginal attribute with in choice set depend upon the expected utility loss from making a suboptimal choice as a result of ignoring that incremental attribute. Guided by this analysis, we then develop a very general and practical empirical method for measuring the individual's propensity to attend to attributes. As a proof of concept, we offer an empirical example of our method using a conjoint analysis of demand for programs to reduce health risks. Our results suggest that respondents differentially allocate attention across attributes, as a function of the mix of attribute levels in a choice set. This behavior can cause researchers who fail to model attention allocation to incorrectly estimate the marginal utilities derived from selected attributes. This illustrative example is a first attempt to implement an attention-corrected choice model with a sample of field data from a conjoint choice experiment.

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Paper provided by University of Oregon Economics Department in its series University of Oregon Economics Department Working Papers with number 2010-8.

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Length: 63
Date of creation: 01 Oct 2008
Handle: RePEc:ore:uoecwp:2010-8
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