Details will follow in due time.
We are all looking forward seeing you there!
On June 17th, 2013, a one-day workshop entitled “Context-dependent consumer decision-making: An interdisciplinary inquiry” was held at the Department of Economics and Management (University of Trento, Italy). The meeting was jointly sponsored by the European Association of Decision Making and the Department of Economics and Management.
The workshop aimed to promote an interdisciplinary approach to the study of consumer decision-making with perspectives from psychology, (neuro)-marketing, behavioral economics, behavioral law and sociology. To that end, we conveyed invited speakers to discuss the theoretical, experimental and applied implications of the behavioral science of normal and abnormal consumer decision-making.
There were three keynote speakers: John Payne, Fuqua School of Business, Duke University (USA), Carolyn Yoon, Stephen M. Ross School of Business, University of Michigan (USA) and Barbara Fasolo, Department of Management, London School of Economics (UK). Also, there was an oral communication and poster session.
Payne addressed the role of context in consumer decision making by focusing on classic behavioral effects including his own pioneering studies on choice menu. Yoon presented the audience with an analysis of recent trends in consumer neurosciences, and an original study on brand neuro-marketing. Fasolo addressed the role of nudging consumers via the design of web-interfaces in the domain of health and tourism.
A selected group of oral communications followed. They addressed an aspect of the theme of the workshop. Also, a poster session took place.
For more detailed information on the content of the talks, and for those who are interested to download the slides, the University of Trento conference website is: http://events.unitn.it/aisc2013/workshop-context-dependent
Slides are available here
9.30-17.30 – WORKSHOP – Room 2C – Monday 17/6
“Context-dependent consumer decision-making: An interdisciplinary enquiry”
9.20 Welcome Nicolao Bonini (University of Trento)
9.30 -10.30 John Payne (Fuqua School of Business, Duke University, USA)
“How to decide: The Past and Future of Constructed Preferences”
10.30-11.30 Carolyn Yoon (Stephen M. Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, USA)
“The context-dependent nature of brand judgments: Insights from consumer neuroscience”
11.50 12.50 Barbara Fasolo (Department of Management, London School of Economics, UK)
“Developing Adaptive Choice Architecture”
14.15-15.15 Poster session (coffee-break room)
Buddhiprabha Pathirana, Evan Fradkin, Cinzia Giorgetta, Cinzia Calluso, Inga Jonaityte, Gianluca Finotti, Tokarchuk Oksana, Francesca De Petrillo, Andrea Galentino, Alessandro Grecucci, Andrea Rattin, Cesare Guerreschi, Alan G. Sanfey, Nicolao Bonini, Annalisa Tosoni, Giovanni Pezzulo, Giorgia Committeri, Riccardo Boero, Annalisa Garis, Marco Novarese, Maurizio Tirassa, Laura Vella, Ponsi, G., Delfino, A., Addessi, E., Paglieri Fabio, Xiaolei Zhou, Joseph G. Johnson
15.15-16.30 – Talks – Room 2C
15.15-15.40 Kim Kaivanto (Dept. of Economics, Lancaster University)
“Asymmetric Dominance and Compromise Effects as Manifestations of Choice Without Preference”.
15.40-16.05 Michele Graffeo, Luca Polonio, Nicolao Bonini (University of Trento)
“Looking for the best deal: How numeracy and reflexive thinking are associated with fast and slow processes”.
16.05-16.30 Michela Balconi, Beniamino Stumpo, Valeria Trezzi,Ylenia Canavesio (Catholic University of Milan; Foundation Research Organization GTechnology, Modena)
“Choice and preference in neuromarketing. Neuropsychological, autonomic and cognitive measures in response to different emotional-valenced products”.
16.50-17.40 Talks 4/9
16.50 -17.15 Martina Reitmeier, Jutta Roosen (Dept. of Marketing and Consumer Research, Technische Universität München) “The impact of life transitions on food consumption decisions – Analysis of older consumers”
17.15-17.40 Giuseppe Bellantuono (University of Trento)
“Nudge policies everywhere?”
Additionally to the three keynotes and presenters (oral and poster communications) we had several participants who contributed to the discussion through all workshop works. Overall, slightly less than 50 participants took part at the workshop contributing to a deep interdisciplinary discussion on the role of context on consumer decision making. The represented disciplines ranged from psychology, economics, law, management, marketing, neurosciences, and sociology. We think that this accomplished the goal of promoting a deeper and multi-perspectives comprehension of complex phenomena such as that of consumer-decision making processes.
We thank the European Association for Decision Making (EADM), and the Department of Economics and Management for their financial support. The University of Trento (Conference Division), and the Italian Association of Cognitive Sciences (AISC) are also thanked for their organizational support.
Scientific and Organization committee
Prof. Dr. Nicolao Bonini (Chairman), firstname.lastname@example.org
Prof. Dr. Luigi Mittone, email@example.com
Dr. Marco Cruciani, firstname.lastname@example.org (AISC representative)
Prof. Dr. Umberto Martini, email@example.com
The 6th JDM workshop for young researchers was held at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin from July 17th to the 19th!
The workshop is a scientific event that combines the best features of a workshop and a conference. Its objective is to provide an opportunity for young researchers to network and discuss their research in a relaxed environment. The workshop was incepted in 2008 at the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods in Bonn, Germany, when a small group of PhD students decided that there was a need for young researchers to network and collaborate independently of senior researchers. Since then the workshop has constantly grown from year to year. The workshop has been held at the University of Mannheim (Germany), once more at the MPI in Bonn, and twice at the University of Basel (Switzerland).
Traditionally the organization team is recruited bottom-up from past participants to ensure continuity between years in layout and spirit. At the conclusion of last year’s workshop in Basel, Dirk Wulff and Nathaniel Phillips, two PhD students at the MPI for Human development, offered to host the workshop in Berlin. They thought the MPI for Human Development was particularly suited for this event as two of the four large research groups at the institute (the Center for Adaptive Behavior and Cognition, “ABC”, and the Center for Adaptive Rationality, “ARC”) conduct world-leading research on judgment and decision making rendering it one of the foremost institutions on JDM research in Europe.
Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin
We received a total of 46 abstract submissions from pre-docs and post-docs coming from 13 different countries located on 4 continents – all records for the workshop. To ensure that all participants had opportunities to present and receive feedback, we instilled two changes to the workshop from previous years. First, we extended the workshop from the previous 2.5-day schedule to a full 3 days. Second, in addition to the traditional 15-minute talk and 15-minute discussion format, we created a new short presentation format with a 5-minute talk and 5-minute discussion. Using this new format, we were able to accept a total of 36 participants with everyone contributing an oral scientific presentation.
Participants in this year’s workshop had a diverse set of backgrounds, including Psychology, Organizational Behavior, Management, and Computer Science coming from a total of 24 different scientific intuitions around the world. The topics ranged from the very applied (e.g. Overconfidence and Entrepreneurial choice under Ambiguity by Anisa Shyti, HEC Paris Business School) to the very cognitive (Using computer mouse movements to parse the temporal dynamics of value-based-choices by Nicolette Sullivan, California Institute of Technology). Despite this wide range of research methods, there was however still a pronounced overlap in research questions as illustrated by the wordcloud from all accepted abstracts.
Wordcloud created from all accepted abstracts
Keynote and Workshops
The workshop program also offered a keynote and two exciting workshops from experts in the field of judgment and decision making. For the keynote we were privileged to have Prof. Gerd Gigerenzer share his extensive experience as a researcher in a 90min advice session for young scientists titled “Publishing without perishing”. In his talk, Prof. Gigerenzer shared “5 ways to perish in publishing” (e.g.; “Ignore the reviewer’s points and interpret them as personal insults”), as well as 5 ways to increase your chances to publish (e.g.; “Be honest about the limitations of your research”). On the second day our invited speaker Prof. Gabriele Paolacci from the University of Rotterdam (Department of Marketing Management) demonstrated the benefits and risks of the Amazon Mechanical Turk for JDM research. Participants learned how the Amazon Mechanical Turk works as a general platform for crowdsourcing that offers a more diverse subject population and lower costs (time and money) than traditional participant pools. Besides, methodological questions and concerns of the participants were addressed in an extensive discussion. On the third day Dr. Mirjam Jenny and Dr. Stefan Herzog from the Max Planck Institute for Human Development gave a joint presentation on current political and methodological developments in the field of psychology in response to the recent cases of scientific misconduct and fraud. Their presentation provided a review of new developments, such as the Simonsohn’s p-curve method of detecting false positive results and encouraged participants to join the Open Science Framework to promote transparency in research. Finally, participants were given a hands-on demonstration of Bayesian statistical inference for standard statistical tests – including a simple web-page interface for conducting completely Bayesian “t-tests” based on Kruschke’s paper “Bayesian estimation supersedes the t-test.”
While the scientific presentations and workshops constituted a rich program during the day the workshop program also had a social program for participants to continue research discussions and share their experiences as young academics. On Wednesday and Friday we went out to restaurants in different areas of Berlin. On Thursday, we organized an official workshop BBQ for all participants and invited speakers together on the Max Planck Institute garden terrace.
Impressions of the workshop
The workshop was an overwhelming success and could not have been realized without the generous support from the European Association of Decision Making. Without the funding, we could not have invited external speakers, provided the workshop material, and offered coffee and refreshments to keep participants’ energy levels high throughout the workshop!
Not only due to the success of this year the workshop’s continuation is already in planning. Next year Felix Henninger and Pascal Kieslich, who helped in the organization of this year’s workshop, will head the organization committee of the 7th JDM Workshop for young researchers at the University of Mannheim. We are looking forward to another great workshop featuring many interesting talks from international young JDM researchers and exciting lectures from experts in our field. Details will be announced this winter.
Dirk U. Wulff (chair)
Max Planck Institute for Human Development
Nathaniel D. Phillips
Max Planck Institute for Human Development
University of Mannheim
Pascal J. Kieslich
University of Mannheim
Max Planck Institute for Human Development
On Friday, July 26th, 2013, a one-day small-group meeting entitled Efficient Science – Methodological Controversies in J/DM Research was held at the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods in Bonn. The meeting was jointly sponsored by the European Association of Decision Making and the Max Planck Society.
The small group meeting brought together researchers from the field of Judgment and Decision Making (J/DM) to reflect on the issues raised and the suggestions made in recent methodological debates in psychology. The specific aim was to assess the methodological situation in our field and, if necessary, to debate how our methodology can be improved so that science can be done more efficiently also in J/DM research. The problems and solutions discussed were grouped around the four main topics (1) Structural framework, (2) Design and data analysis, (3) Cumulative development of knowledge, and (4) Theory development.
The day started with keynote presentations by Michael Birnbaum (California State University, Fullerton) and Joseph Simmons (University of Pennsylvania). In his talks “Science of JDM as an Efficient Game of Mastermind” Michael Birnbaum demonstrated how to do efficient science by quickly narrowing down sets of hypotheses in as few steps as possible as in the game Mastermind. Besides showing similarities and differences, he exemplified how this approach can be realized in J/DM by testing critical properties of whole classes of theories. In the second keynote Joseph Simmons summarized recommendations to avoid a “false-positive psychology” and he provided further suggestions how to reach a positive true psychology. Both keynotes inspired constructive discussions and set the stage for the ten specific presentations that followed.
In the (1) Structural Framework section, Christoph Engel (MPI Collective Goods, Bonn) presented a game-theoretic analysis of the incentive structures in science which showed different possibilities how to influence individuals behavior in this public-bad dilemma for example by including reputation effects or uncertainty about when the strategic interaction ends. Frank Renkewitz (University of Erfurt), demonstrated structural problems for significance testing with large samples that follow from the fact that effects are likely to vary randomly determined by unknown factors. In the (2) Design and data analysis section, Erich Witte (University Hamburg) presented his suggestion to clearly differentiate between research in a phase of discovery and in a later phase of justification. Clintin Davis-Stober (University of Missouri) demonstrated that our estimations in experimental studies are often not better than chance and called for substantially higher powered studies to reduce the problem. Michael Schulte-Mecklenbeck (MPI for Human Development, Berlin) highlighted in his talk that even minor changes in research paradigms can influence results to some degree. In the (3) Cumulative development of knowledge section, Mark Brandt (Tilburg University) suggested that authors should prepare replication packages including material and data for published papers and make them publicly available on their webpage as standard of good scientific practice. Christoph Stahl (University of Cologne) discussed the advantages of a data-blind peer review process and informed that several journal plan to or have already included the submission category of “registered reports” as one possibility for publication. Mirjam Jenny (MPI for Human Development, Berlin) summarized recent developments in the methodology debate and presented data from a survey indicating that researchers also in the field of J/DM are open to change but that there is some skepticism concerning the introduction of strict rules. In the (4) Theory development section, Andreas Glöckner (University Göttingen) argued that one of the most fundamental problems to be solved in order to make science efficient in J/DM is to improve our theories to be better specified and to more thoroughly check the quality and the empirical content of theories to avoid the problem of theory accumulation. Klaus Fiedler (University Heidelberg) highlighted the importance of embedding theories in more general theoretical frameworks. He thereby argued against the mere focus on statistical hypothesis testing of isolated effects and in favor of searching for general explanation mechanisms and for more theory-driven thinking instead of focusing on alpha levels only.
Core insights and conclusion from the discussion were that (a) the generally problems identified in recent methodological debates also apply to J/DM (although perhaps partially to a smaller degree) and that the solutions suggested in other fields can basically be applied to J/DM as well. It was highlighted that (b) there is a need for educating young researchers that enter the field more intensely on methodology which should be implemented in summer schools. To achieve efficient science (c) there has to be more focus on general theoretical thinking, theory specification as well as theory testing and theory development. All researchers and institutions have (d) to contribute to change incentive structures so that high-quality research and good researchers are rewarded instead of rewarding pure quantity of output. This particularly concerns hiring committees, editors and reviewers of manuscripts and grant proposals. Finally, it became clear in the discussion that (e) all issues are intervened and that chances for success and advantages that could be potential gained are interdependent so that we have to move forward simultaneously in all respects to develop more efficient science.
Schedule Full Program Efficient Science 2013
|9:20 – 10:20||Keynote: Michael Birnbaum: Science of JDM as an Efficient Game of Mastermind|
|10:35 – 11:35||Keynote: Joseph Simmons: Positive True Psychology|
|11:45 – 12:15||Christoph Engel: Scientific Dishonesty As a Public Bad|
|12:15 – 12:45||Frank Renkewitz: Random findings, alpha inflation, overrated relevance and generalisability: Consequences of the random variation of true effect sizes.|
|12:45 – 13:15||Erich H. Witte: Statistical inference techniques: Context of discovery and context of justification in empirical sciences – The long way of a research program|
|14:15 – 14:45||Clintin Davis-Stober: When are our experimental findings better than a guess?|
|14:45 – 15:15||Michael Schulte-Mecklenbeck: How replicable are process measures in decision making? The impact of subtle search costs|
|15:15 – 15:45||Mark J. Brandt: Advancing replicability and theory through replication recipes and replication packages|
|16:15 – 16:35||Christoph Stahl: Data-blind peer review|
|16:35 – 17:05||Mirjam Jenny: Psychologists are open to change, yet wary of rules|
|17:05 – 17:35||Andreas Glöckner: The empirical content of theories in judgment and decision making: Shortcomings and remedies|
|17:35 – 17:55||Klaus Fiedler: How Important is Statistical Hypothesis Testing for the Quality of Science?|
|18:00 – 19:30||Discussion|
Additionally to the two keynotes and ten presenters we had eleven guests without oral presentations, which made very valuable contributions in the discussion by asking critical questions, commenting on the suggestions provided and providing their opinions on various topics. Overall, 23 persons took part at this small group meeting which allowed for highly productive and intense discussions.
In the view of the organizers, the small group meeting achieved its goal to extend the methodological debate to the field of J/DM and to develop new suggestions for making science in our field more efficient. The contributions nicely complemented each other and participants got a differentiated overview over current debates, controversies and viewpoints. The insights developed at the meeting will be summarized in a joint multi-authored methodological article describing the core arguments discussed at the meeting. We thank the European Association for Decision Making (EADM) for the generous financial support of the meeting without which realizing the meeting would not have been possible.
Susann Fiedler, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods
Andreas Glöckner, University of Göttingen & Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods
Klaus Fiedler, University of Heidelberg
The European Association for Decision Making invites you to attend its next biannual 24th Subjective Probability, Utility, and Decision Making Conference (SPUDM 24), which will be held at IESE Business School – University of Navarra in Barcelona, Spain, on August 18-22, 2013.
We are pleased to announce that the registration for the conference is already open and available at:
The conference will feature the following invited speakers:
* Timothy D. Wilson, University of Virginia, USA
* Colin F. Camerer, California Institute of Technology, USA
* Robin Hogarth, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain
* Ralph Hertwig, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin, Germany
Attending this meeting will also be an opportunity to discover Barcelona, one of the most unique and architecturally distinctive cities of the world. Barcelona is the capital of Spain’s Catalan region, which has produced a number of the world’s most prominent artists including Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí. The architect Antoni Gaudí also left his indelible mark on the city through a number of remarkable buildings such as La Sagrada Familia, La Pedrera, and La Casa Batlló.
We look forward to seeing and welcoming you in Barcelona!
The local organizing committee:
Elena Reustkaja (IESE, Spain); Mario Capizzani (IESE, Spain), Franz Heukamp (IESE, Spain), and Robin Hogarth (UPF, Spain).
Present: the 2007-2009 board and the 2009-2011 board (Robin Hogarth, Ilana Ritov, Rob Ranyard, Gaelle Villejoubert, Nicolao Bonini, Fergus Bolger, Cilia Witteman), 45 members.
All decisions proposed by the board (see minutes of the August 2009 Executive Board meeting) are accepted by the members.
Members are exhorted to make more active use of the website. A member proposes to put the programs of all previous Spudm meetings on the website. Gaelle will look into this. She ask for assistance with the website, and for any interested member to contact her.
Robin introduces the new board members: Nicolao as president-elect and Fergus as member-at-large.Ilana thanks Rob and Robin for all their work for Eadm in the past 2 years, and presents them with an engraved wooden testimony of their board-membership.
1. Opening by John Maule (president)
We currently have 166 senior and 28 PhD paying members.
2. Reports of the 2005 and 2006 Board and business meetings are presented to the members;
All members are now on the mailing list unless they sign out.
Spudm is back to 4 days.
We will send out an internet questionnaire about the conference again after this conference
3. The treasurer’s reports are presented and approved.
4. The workshops held in 2006 and 2007 (so far) are presented. We are happy that there have been quite a few workshops; many more than before.
5. Proposed modifications in the Articles and Standing Orders of the EADM are presented to the members and put to the vote (enough members are present (> 30) to make the vote legal).
was: The Executive Board is elected by the members
change: The members elect the President-Elect and the Member at Large of the Executive Board
was: After the Executive Board has been elected, it appoints from its midst the Secretary-Treasurer and the Newsletter Editor
change: After the President-Elect and the Member at Large have been elected they appoint together with the new President a Secretary-Treasurer and a Newsletter Editor
.. nominations of a candidate to serve as President-Elect and
was: of candidates to serve on the Executive Board
change: of a candidate to serve as Member at Large
was: The Executive Board has at most 2 members with the same nationality. The President and the President-Elect have a different nationality.
The secretary-treasurer (Cilia Witteman) will have these changes made.
NB (October 2007): Since the costs of formally changing these Articles, through the notary, turns out to be quite high (575 Euros excl. 19 % VAT), the Board decided to keep two files: (1) the up-dated articles and (2) the notarized articles. When EADM has many changes to make, we can then do all the changes at once.
6. The next Spudm organisers are presented, as well as the next Prize committees:
Spudm 2009 will be in Rovereto. Organising committee: Nicolao Bonini, Dinos Hadjichristidis (Trento)(Local organisers); Rob Ranyard (for the Eadm Board), Elke Weber (USA member), person from 2011 Spudm organisation.
For Spudm 2011: there are two possibilities: Barcelona (Robin Hogarth) and Toulouse (Gaëlle Villejoubert). Robin and Gaëlle will investigate, and report before the end of October.
No other cities volunteer during the meeting.
2009 De Finetti prize committee: Pieter Koele (chair), Dan Goldstein, Mandeep Dhami, Wibecke Brun.
2009 Jane Beattie prize committee: Robin Hogarth (chair), Marcel Zeelenberg (this year’s winner), Nigel Harvey, Ilana Ritov.
7. Future of EADM
The aim is to facilitate and promote decision research.
Gaëlle gets very positive reactions to her proposal of a dynamic, professional website. She foresees contributing editors for different areas. The members vote to make money availbale for her plans.
John and Robin propose the PR-offensive. Aims are: to lobby at the European level to increase funding for DM research, to help create positions for young DM researchers in Europe, to give or increase service to the public. Ideas are to get publicity around workshops and conferences. John’s son will advise us how to het the right angle to interest policy makers and journalists, e.g. by making press releases or flyers in all countries. Other ideas are to mention EADM in grant proposals, to find reviewers through the website, and to publish successful grant proposals on the website.
A requirement added to workshop-funding could be to send out a press release before the workshop.
John and Robin also get the green light to go ahead with their plans.
Some members volunteer to assist Gaëlle and/or John and Robin; more help is welcome.
8. John Maule hands over the chair to Robin Hogarth, the new President.
The new board members (Ilana Ritov as president-elect and Rob Ranyard as member-at large) are welcomed by the new President (Robin Hogarth).
9. Nicolao Bonini presents very attractive slides about the location of the next Spudm, Roverto. We look forward to it.
Present: Robin Hogarth, Ilana Ritov, Rob Ranyard, Gaelle Villejoubert, Nicolao Bonini, Fergus Bolger, Cilia Witteman
Written by Nicolao Bonini
Following SPUDM in Warsaw, Robin Hogarth addressed, in the first Presidential column, the issue of what EADM can do besides supporting SPUDM conferences. The three long-term goals that he listed all relate to how to “increase the image of decision research in Europe – to have positive effects on research funding, academic positions, and influence that reflects our unique knowledge”. There follow some comments and proposals.
1. Funding of research / teaching initiatives. This, I think, is a crucial aspect. We should do our best to foster initiatives among EADM members. One way to do so is use national funding allocated to support international cooperation (e.g. to support foreign principal investigators, incoming visiting scholars or students). Another way is to take advantage of European programmes – some are designed to strengthen relationships with extra-European countries. Those programmes could support research networks, but also European master courses, summer schools, or joint doctoral programmes. Posting news, announcing calls, or requesting collaboration on our webpage is a way to make EADM members aware of those opportunities (in Kingston-upon-Thames, the Board decided to hire a web-content manager who could also attend to these aspects). However, greater participation is needed to keep our website alive and updated. I wonder if we could do more. For example, appoint an EADM representative who would attend inception meetings at relevant European institutions, taking a propositive role as well as informing EADM members about discussions at those meetings that might be of relevance for J/DM scientists.
2. Decision research community. In the 1960s, there was a distinct European response to the growing interest in decision research, and SPUDM was its main manifestation. An article by Charles Vlek on “A Brief History of SPUDM” will be soon published on our website; future articles/comments will be welcome. We should do more to enhance our identity: not only for the benefit of young students but also for those not in academia (e.g., inform politicians and policy makers about competences available in our community – see next point). We are still collecting material, such as pictures and SPUDM programmes, that will be uploaded on our website. The aim is to give a pictorial history of that initiative and early ideas. All EADM members are encouraged to participate by sending relevant material to Michael Schulte-Mecklenbeck.
3. Beyond academia. I recall discussions with Maule, Hogarth and members of the Board/Association on how to improve the image of our research community outside academia. One suggestion was to use PR to publicize SPUDM and EADM workshops to a broader audience. This is certainly something that should be done. Let me share with you the experience of organizing SPUDM in Rovereto. We made an effort to publicize it widely (e.g., coverage in national newspapers, and national broadcasting of interviews with invited speakers). I believe that there was a substantive return on this effort. I came into contact with people from other disciplines, as well as with policy makers and various stakeholders. This could be done more systematically by a professional PR hired to publicize EADM members’ work, as was suggested many years ago. Alternatively, we could recruit a young scientist with good writing skills who could write regular J/DM research digests1.We could also try to create positive synergies with our sister society, the Society for Judgment and Decision Making, by, for example, organizing a joint EADM-SJDM workshop on “hot” topics that might also be of interest to the general public.
There are many things to do, and many others not yet thought of! So, please, do not hesitate to use our webpage (or to contact me or members of the Board) to offer your comments and your assistance.
Note 1: Thanks to Gaelle for suggestion.
Written by Ilana Ritov
I would like to share with the readers my thoughts about three different issues I have recently been asked to consider and express my opinion about. I believe many of us encounter these questions, and some may have very different answers. The first issue involved hiring new faculty. Candidates were considered for a job opening in my department. As is so often the case, two leading candidates emerged. One of them is doing highly interesting work, and pursuing issues that seem to me important. The other’s work is somewhat less exciting, but is considered to better fit the departmental “needs”. I argued in favour of the former candidate, apparently weighting the intrinsic value of theresearch over and above the matching of the candidate’s interests with those of the department.
The second issue concerned a paper submitted to the journal Judgment and Decision Making, in which I serve as an associate editor. I found the paper highly interesting, as did the other members of the editorial board who read it. However, doubts were raised whether this paper should be published in a JDM journal. The paper did not examine choices, but compared evaluations of health related issues across countries and expertise levels. The decision whether to accept the paper for publication clearly rests on consideration of quality (in this case interest) vs. fit.
Finally, another problem I had to consider recently is whether to allow a student in the conflict management program I chair to take, as an elective, a class about “urban planning from the perspective of sub-populations”. The class would (hopefully) be stimulating and could provide a background that is relevant to some conflict management analyses, but it is not directly related to the core of the program. The student wanted to take the class because she was very interested in the topic. I thought this was a good enough reason, and approved her request.
Needless to say, the three problems are very different in many respects. However, thinking about these three problems simultaneously, I realized they all involve weighting of two major attributes: intrinsic value and fit. Intrinsic value, in our domain, typically refers to how interesting we find the object, be it a research program, an individual paper, or a specific class. The fit is the degree to which the topic matches some pre-defined domain characteristics. More precisely, we think of the extent to which the topic is close to the prototypical exemplar of a category with fussy boundaries.
One factor that has been shown to affect attribute weighting is ‘evaluability’. The easier it is to evaluate an attribute the greater the weight it carries. Perhaps due to the interdisciplinary nature and vague boundaries of our field, it seems to me that we as JDM-researchers find quality easier to evaluate than fit. This suggests that I may have assigned too much weight to quality/interest relative to fit.
Do I overweight one attribute relative to the other? A quick search of the vast literature on attribute weighting did not yield any clear conclusions. Incoherent preferences related to changes in attribute weighting are abundant. However, perhaps due to some self-serving bias, I cannot easily think of another framing in which my preferences with respect to the choices described above would have been different.