Preference Construction under Prominence Defended on Friday, 12 June 2015

Prior academic research and common sense assume that differences in attribute importance weights should determine choice. All else equal, consumers are presumed to prefer products that in their view are superior along the products’ most important—or so-called “prominent”—dimensions. This dissertation examines to what extent people use prominence (i.e., relative attribute importance) when constructing their preference and shows that the decision process exerts an influence on choice that is not captured by the classic theories.

First, we argue that the use of prominence in choice depends on the perceived reliability of the prominent attribute. When values associated with the prominent attribute are not perceived to be as reliable as values associated with the non-prominent attribute, decision-makers are more likely to make choices that are inconsistent with their attribute preferences. Second, we argue that the use of prominence in choice depends on the presence of relational properties between the alternatives under consideration. We found that decision-makers are less likely to employ prominence when expressing their preference about alternatives from a choice set in which dominance or compromise relationships are present. This dissertation holds implications for product line management and choice architecture.


Prominence, Attribute, Number of Alternatives, Dominance, Compromise, Context Effects, Preference Construction, Disaster Donation, Heuristics, Policy-making

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