Inferring attribute non-attendance from stated choice data: Implications for willingness to pay estimates and a warning for stated choice experiment design
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There is a growing interest in traveller behaviour research to explore alternative information processing strategies (often referred to as heuristics or rules) adopted by individuals when assessing packages of attributes describing alternatives in a choice set, and making a choice. One popular attribute processing rule relates to attributes not being considered (i. e., being ignored), for all manner of reasons, referred to in the small but growing literature as attribute non-attendance or non-preservation. Researchers have used a mixture of methods to study the role of attribute non-attendance, including supplementary questions on whether each attribute is ignored or not, and methods in which the functional form of the utility expressions defining an alternative can recognise the possibility, up to a probability, of an attribute being ignored. Although supplementary questions are worthy of further consideration, despite the controversy as to the reliability of the response, recent interest has focused on ways to establish the incidence of attribute non-attendance without recourse to such evidence. In this paper we use an existing data set of choice amongst four attributes describing alternative car non-commuting trips, to illustrate the proposed method, and to compare values of travel time savings under each possible combination of non-attendance attributes relative to a model in which all attributes are assumed to be fully attended to. The paper reveals a major concern with the way that attribute levels and ranges are selected in the design of choice experiments, which can induce non-attendance situations where willingness to pay estimates cannot be obtained. © 2011 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.
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