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Thu, 27 Aug 1998 11:40:04 +0100
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Robert Branstrom wrote:

>Given 3 options people typically choose the
>middle one. My modeling of decision processes suggests that our brain may
>be wired to be biased in this way.

A far reaching conclusion.  I wold like to see an account of what led you
to a conclusion that the brain is 'wired' in any way, let alone this way!
=My= data from many years of preference testing leads me to conclude that
if you ask a meaningless question, people usually say 'I don't know'/ 'the
middle one I guess'/ 'average' etc.  On the other hand, the art of
preference data collecting is to find ways of asking questioins that yield
meaningful, stable responses.

>More generally, research in psychology
>shows that people don't have "stable preferences", meaning that different
>measurement methods that should (logically) give the same result often
>don't.

Somewhat disturbing a conclusion about measurement in psychology.  Do you
mean to be so all-embracing?  Test-retest on a good preference
questionnaire can be as high as 0.80 if not more... in fact, I'd use a
criterion like test-retest or inter-questionnaire correlations to validate
my assumptions about a new questionnaire.

>Bottom line: I wouldn't rely exclusively on reported user preferences, but
>would also consider the logic of the design, navigation, data sources,
>etc.

I thoroughly agree.  However, I feel that you have over-stated the
conclusions from your critique of mental measurement.  If they are are
valueless as you suggest, =I= wouldn't touch them with a bargepole, and yet
I and obviously you too have used them as part of a battery of assessments
and psychometrics these days is most probably the one single branch of the
psychological sciences that has developed cumulatively since the mid 19th
century.


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