Environmental and Resource Economics

, Volume 54, Issue 3, pp 333–359 | Cite as

Attending to the Reasons for Attribute Non-attendance in Choice Experiments

  • Mohammed Hussen Alemu
  • Morten Raun Mørkbak
  • Søren Bøye Olsen
  • Carsten Lynge Jensen


This paper focuses on behavioural reasons underlying stated attribute non-attendance in choice experiments. In order to identify and incorporate procedures for dealing with heterogeneous attribute processing strategies, we ask respondents follow-up questions regarding their reasons for ignoring attributes. Based on these statements, we conclude that the standard way of assigning a zero impact of ignored attributes on the likelihood is inappropriate. We find that some respondents act in accordance with the passive bounded rationality assumption since they ignore an attribute simply because it does not affect their utility. Excluding these genuine zero preferences, as the standard approach essentially does, might bias results. Other respondents claim to have ignored attributes to simplify choices. However, we find that these respondents have actually not completely ignored attributes. We argue along the rationally adaptive behavioural model that valid preference information may indeed be elicited in these cases, and we illustrate how recoding of non-attendance statements conditional on stated reasons may be a more appropriate solution than the current standard way of taking stated non-attendance into account.


Attribute non-attendance Choice experiment Error component logit model Passive bounded rationality Rationally adaptive behaviour 



Akaike’s information criterion


Alternative specific constant


Bayesian information criterion


Choice experiment


Error component logit


Inferred non-attendance


Latent class model




Multinomial logit model


Random parameter error component logit


Random parameter logit


Stated non-attendance


Willingness to pay


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mohammed Hussen Alemu
    • 1
  • Morten Raun Mørkbak
    • 2
  • Søren Bøye Olsen
    • 3
  • Carsten Lynge Jensen
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Environmental ScienceAarhus UniversityRoskildeDenmark
  2. 2.Department of Business and Economics, COHEREUniversity of Southern DenmarkOdenseDenmark
  3. 3.Institute of Food and Resource Economics, Life Science FacultyUniversity of CopenhagenFrederiksberg CDenmark

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