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Differential Attention to Attributes in Utility-theoretic Choice Models

Trudy Cameron () and J.R. DeShazo ()
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J.R. DeShazo: School of Public Affairs, UCLA

University of Oregon Economics Department Working Papers from University of Oregon Economics Department

Abstract: 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.

Keywords: conjoint choice; bounded rationality; attention to attributes; choice set design (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C25 C83 C81 C9 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2008-10-01
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