Position bias in best-worst scaling surveys: A case study on trust in institutions

Position bias in best-worst scaling surveys: A case study on trust in institutions

Abstract

This paper investigates the effect of items’ physical position in the best-worst scaling technique. Although the best-worst scaling technique has been widely used in many fields, the literature has largely overlooked the phenomenon of consumers’ adoption of processing strategies while making their best-worst choices. We examine this issue in the context of consumers’ trust in institutions to provide information about a new food technology, nanotechnology, and its use in food processing. Our results show that approximately half of the consumers used position as a schematic cue when making choices. We find the position bias was particularly strong when consumers chose their most trustworthy institution compared to their least trustworthy institution. In light of our findings, we recommend that researchers in the field be aware of the possibility of position bias when designing best-worst scaling surveys. We also encourage researchers who have already collected best-worst data to investigate whether their data shows such heuristics.

Publication
American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 97: 526-545
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Danny Campbell
Professor of Economics