Journal of Risk and Uncertainty

, Volume 19, Issue 1–3, pp 139–164 | Cite as

Construal Processes in Preference Assessment

  • Baruch Fischhoff
  • Ned Welch
  • Shane Frederick


Interpreting people's preferences requires understanding how they have construed their tasks, interpreting the proposed alternatives in the context where the evaluation is being made. With stylized experimental or survey choices, researchers' challenge is typically identifying the features that people add in order to make their task real enough to answer (i.e., how they read between the lines). With rich “real world” choices, researchers' challenge is typically identifying the features that people neglect, as they reduce their task to manageable complexity (i.e., which lines they choose to read). In either case, if people misunderstand or mistrust the stated transaction, they may evaluate a different offer than the one that was proposed. Such misconstruals are a nuisance for investigators, insofar as dealing with them delays the measurements that motivated the research. However, they can also provide an opportunity, by focusing attention on how people give meaning to choice situations. This article describes procedures for studying construal processes, strategies for getting people to answer the questions that interest researchers, and options for interpreting responses when people construe questions differently than was intended.

preferences elicitation construal values environments 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Baruch Fischhoff
    • 1
  • Ned Welch
    • 1
  • Shane Frederick
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Social and Decision SciencesCarnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburgh

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