Research Papers

Preference Inconsistency in Multidisciplinary Design Decision Making

[+] Author and Article Information
Erin F. MacDonald

Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02142erinmacd@mit.edu

Richard Gonzalez

Department of Psychology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1043gonzo@umich.edu

Panos Y. Papalambros

Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48104-2125pyp@umich.edu

J. Mech. Des 131(3), 031009 (Mar 03, 2009) (13 pages) doi:10.1115/1.3066526 History: Received August 07, 2007; Revised November 22, 2008; Published March 03, 2009

A common implicit assumption in engineering design is that user preferences exist a priori. However, research from behavioral psychology and experimental economics suggests that individuals construct preferences on a case-by-case basis when called to make a decision rather than referring to an existing preference structure. Thus, across different contexts, preference elicitation methods used in design decision making can lead to preference inconsistencies. This paper offers a framework for understanding preference inconsistencies, giving three examples of preference inconsistencies that demonstrate the implications of unnoticed inconsistencies, and also discusses the design benefits of testing for inconsistencies. Three common engineering and marketing design methods are discussed: discrete choice analysis, modeling stated versus revealed preferences, and the Kano method. In these examples, we discuss perceived relationships between product attributes, identify market opportunities for a “green” product, and show how people find it is easier to imagine delight rather than necessity of product attributes. Understanding preference inconsistencies offers new insights into the relationship between user and product design.

Copyright © 2009 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figure 1

Propagation of preference construction through Michalek’s engineering/marketing ATC Formulation

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Figure 2

Propagation of preference construction through decision-based-design flow chart of Wassenaar

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Figure 3

Example questions from survey Part I, Version A

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Figure 4

Aggregated full factorial market shares across survey versions

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Figure 5

Estimated part-worths for price, recycled paper content, and softness




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