The Relationship between Attribute Importance and Attribute-Valuation Functions

15 Pages Posted: 7 Sep 2012

See all articles by Koert van Ittersum

Koert van Ittersum

University of Groningen

Joost M. E. Pennings

Maastricht University; Wageningen UR

Date Written: September 6, 2012

Abstract

In order to better understand decision maker’s perceptions of the importance of attributes, Goldstein (1990) differentiates between global and local interpretations of attribute importance. While the appreciation for the distinction is growing, research on the relationship between measures of global and local importance is inconclusive. We believe that these inconclusive findings are caused by operationalizing global attribute importance with single-point measures that implicitly assume that the global interpretation of attribute importance linearly depends on the relevant range of context-specific attribute levels. To address this, we propose to operationalize the global interpretation of attribute importance by estimating decision makers’ attribute-value functions. Two empirical studies demonstrate that the shape of attribute-value functions changes from concave to convex with global attribute importance. Furthermore, the steepness of these functions increases with global attribute importance while the diminishing sensitivity decreases. Finally, it is demonstrated that the inconclusive findings about the relationship between common, single-point measures of global and local attribute importance are driven by non-linearities in decision makers’ attribute-value functions. The results suggest great promise for future research on using decision makers’ attribute-value functions for measuring the importance of attributes.

Keywords: Attribute importance, Validity, Global and local interpretations of attribute importance, Attribute-value functions

JEL Classification: C00, D00, M00, M31

Suggested Citation

van Ittersum, Koert and Pennings, Joost M. E., The Relationship between Attribute Importance and Attribute-Valuation Functions (September 6, 2012). Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 119, 89-102, September 2012. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2142850

Koert Van Ittersum (Contact Author)

University of Groningen ( email )

Postbus 72
9700 AB Groningen
Netherlands

Joost M. E. Pennings

Maastricht University ( email )

P.O. Box 616
Maastricht, 6200MD
Netherlands

Wageningen UR ( email )

Hollandseweg 1
Wageningen, 6706KN
Netherlands

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