Intuitive Preference Aggregation: Tests of Independence and Consistency

Public Choice Society and Economic Science Association Annual Meetings, Nashville, TN, 2003

Society for Social Choice and Welfare 7th International Meeting, 2004

38 Pages Posted: 7 Feb 2013 Last revised: 26 Mar 2013

Todd Davies

Stanford University - Symbolic Systems Program; Center for the Study of Language and Information

Raja Shah

Stanford University

Date Written: February 18, 2004

Abstract

Stanford students were shown hypothetical preference profiles involving 3 to 5 voters and 2 to 6 alternatives. Profiles were constructed to test subjects' adherence to two related social choice criteria implicated in Arrow's impossibility theorem: inter-menu consistency (IMC) – which is a consequence of the collective rationality assumption – and independence of irrelevant alternatives (IIA). Subjects violated both IMC and IIA in strong numbers, and robustly across presentation methods. The results suggest that IMC and IIA are not intuitively fair principles according to these subjects. A weaker principle which is consistent with many of Arrow's philosophical justifications for IIA and IMC is defined as 'independence of unavailable alternatives' (IUA). A majority of subjects adhere to IUA in evaluating an example that yields strong violations of both IMC and IIA, but the effect is sensitive to presentation. Other principles characterizing subjects' revealed social preferences are described.

Keywords: Arrow's impossibility theorem, behavioral social choice, preference aggregation, social preference

JEL Classification: D71, D63

Suggested Citation

Davies, Todd and Shah, Raja, Intuitive Preference Aggregation: Tests of Independence and Consistency (February 18, 2004). Society for Social Choice and Welfare 7th International Meeting, 2004. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2213600 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2213600

Todd R. Davies (Contact Author)

Stanford University - Symbolic Systems Program ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305-2150
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.stanford.edu/~davies

Center for the Study of Language and Information ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305-4115
United States

Raja Shah

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

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