The Influence of Varying Information Load on Inferred Attribute Non-Attendance

Andrew T' Collins and David A. Hens her


Purpose – There is extensive evidence that decision-makers, faced with increasing information load, may simplify their choice by reducing the amount of information to process. One simplification, commonly referred to as attribute non-attendance (ANA), is a reduction of the number of attributes of the choice alternatives. Several previous studies have identified relationships between varying information load and ANA using self-reported measures of ANA. This chapter revisits this link, motivated by recognition in the literature that such self-reported measures are vulnerable to reporting error.

Methodology – This chapter employs a recently developed modelling approach that has been shown to effectively infer ANA, the random parameters attribute non-attendance (RPANA) model. The empirical setting systematically varies the information load across respondents, on a number of dimensions.

FindingsConfirming earlier findings, ANA is accentuated by an increase in the number of attribute levels, and a decrease in the number of alternatives. Additionally, specific attributes are more likely to not be attended to as the total number of attributes increases. Willingness to pay (WTP) under inferred ANA differs notably from when ANA is self-reported. Additionally accounting for varying information load, when inferring ANA, has little impact on the WTP distribution of those that do attend. However, due to varying rates of non-attendance, the overall WTP distribution varies to a large extent.

Originality and value – This is the first examination of the impact of varying information load on inferred ANA that is identified with the RPANA model.

The value lies in the confirmation of earlier findings despite the evolution of methodologies in the interim.

Keywords: Information load; choice complexity; attribute non-attendance; RPANA model; willingness to pay

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