Implications of Stimulus Sampling on the Attraction Effect

Shaurabh NandyThe University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson, Texas, USA

Abstract

Context effects in multi-attribute decision making are important findings that challenge large classes of rational choice theories, while also providing innovative consumer product strategies. Trueblood (2012) is the first demonstration of the attraction, similarity and compromise context effects using the same experimental paradigm. A closer examination of the attraction effect experiment reveals that the choice probability estimation procedure gives rise to systematic properties in the choice sets, which in this paper are collectively termed as the sum-highest property. Conducting a simulation study reveals that the sum-highest property can affect a large number of choice sets. This is followed by an experiment that shows that people are biased towards options which satisfy the sum-highest property. These results provide a plausible alternate explanation to the attraction effect in studies which use similar estimation procedures, while also highlighting choice behavior under the sum-highest property as a potential principle of multi-attribute decision making.

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