CONSUMERS’ PREFERENCE FOR CHOICE STRATEGIES EXAMINED IN TWO TASK DOMAINS pp. 151-167
Authors: Gesine E. Ziebarth and Xiao-Tian Wang, Univ. of South Dakota, Vermillion, USA
Abstract: We examined how people select and weight the attributes of choice options and use decision strategies (rules and heuristics) to make public and consumer choices. The strategies we tested were step-by-step decision guidelines proposed by researchers of behavioral decision making and consumer choice. These choice strategies included the well-known Multi-Attribute Utility Theory (MAUT) model, the Additive Difference (AD) principle, the “Take the Best” (TTB) heuristic, and also the newly proposed Minimum Requirement (MR) heuristic, and the “Take the Best” on your Minimum Requirement (TTB-MR) heuristic. These decision strategies differed in their normality, complexity, and reference-point dependency. The study employed a two (domains) by five (strategies) within-subject design. Participants were given actual information of four automobile options to evaluate and choose from and, with a balanced order, four actual social security reform proposals to evaluate and choose from. After indicating their initial choice preference, the experimenter and the participant worked one-on-one together to construct a fact table for each of the two choice tasks. Each fact table included the individualized issues/attributes that the participant agreed to be essential for their choice. They then rated the importance of and minimum requirement for each attribute, and reviewed attribute values across the four choice alternatives in each task domain. The experimenter then introduced the choice strategies one at a time and assisted the participant in evaluating choice options according to each of the five choice strategies. Finally, the participant was asked to rate each choice strategy in terms of how consistent it was with their own, spontaneous decision process, and in terms of its overall attractiveness. The results revealed a significant preference for reference-point dependent heuristics (MR and TTB-MR) over reference-point independent strategies (MAUT, AD, TTB), particularly in the public choice domain for consuming ideology. Moreover, an analysis of the strategies’ goodness of fit with the actual choices made by the participants showed that in the public choice domain the reference-point dependent heuristics had the best fit, while in the consumer choice domain MAUT exhibited the best fit. These findings offer further evidence for heuristic choice mechanisms in making real life decisions, as well as implications for the development of behavioral decision aids.