Attribute-value functions as global interpretations of attribute importance

van Ittersum, K. & Pennings, J. M. E., Sep-2012, In : Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes. 119, 1, p. 89-102 14 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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 is 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. Published by Elsevier Inc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-102
Number of pages14
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Sep-2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Attribute importance, Validity, Global and local interpretations of attribute importance, Attribute-value functions, LOSS AVERSION, REFERENCE POINTS, DECISION-MAKING, RELATIVE IMPORTANCE, VALUE ELICITATION, REFERENCE PRICES, CONSUMER CHOICE, RISKLESS CHOICE, PREFERENCES, UTILITY

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