Choosing How Best to Choose: Antecedent Volition & Process Representation in Models of Choice Behavior

A PSC Brown Bag Seminar

Joffre Dan Swait, Jr (University of Technology Sydney, PSC)

Monday, 1/8/2018, 12:00 pm to 1:30 pm.   ARCHIVED EVENT

Location: 6050 ISR - Thompson

Econometric models of choice have tended to focus almost exclusively on the "moment of truth" (i.e., selection itself). Their theoretical perspective has been drawn from basic microeconomic theory: the decision maker is utility maximizing and fully rational, has access to and makes use of all relevant information concerning alternative goods, considers all possible substitutes/goods indefatigably, and observes a known budget constraint. This conceptualization has been criticized as limited, limiting and unrealistic when compared to observable decision making processes (see, e.g., McFadden 2006).

A broader and more useful conceptualization of decision makers (DMs) is that they are adaptive problem solvers that routinely handle complex decisions, but they do so by managing their time, money and cognitive resources. The core concept of Antecedent Volition (AV) is that decision and context complexity give rise to higher-level optimization behavior that reflects DMs resource allocations that lead to efficient and effective decision making. Ultimately, DMs decide how to optimally and efficiently make a good decision. AV is meant to include activities and processes used by the decision maker prior to the "moment of truth", to wit, before the choice of one or more discrete goods from a choice set; the use of these processes are a direct consequence of a decision maker's conscious volition.

In this presentation I will discuss multiple choice model developments that illustrate the empirical implementation of AV-based choice models, based on a number of papers that I have co-authored. Extending AV concepts to choice model formulation will lead to improved decision process representation that will aid in forecasting, policy/welfare analysis and inference about choice behaviors; it will also help link research in marketing, behavioral economics and economic psychology with empirical implementation.

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Dr. Swait is Research Professor at the Institute for Choice (I4C), University of South Australia, where he serves as one of its Co-Directors. In 2017, he as elected Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia, in Marketing. He is also an Honorary Professor at the Institute for Transport and Logistics Studies at the University of Sydney, and an off-campus researcher of the Population Studies Center of the University of Michigan.

He received his Ph.D. in 1984 from the Transportation Systems Division, Dept. of Civil Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He specialized in modeling discrete choice behavior, particularly with respect to choice set formation; currently, his interests include that and other forms of Antecedent Volition. He has extensive consulting experience in North and South America where he has conducted consumer behavior modeling in such diverse areas as Transportation, Telecommunications, Packaged Goods, Financial Services, Computer Hardware, and Tourism. Prior to his current position, he was a full-time faculty member of the Instituto Tecnologico de Aeronautica (ITA) and the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (COPPE) (Brazil); the University of Florida (USA); the University of Alberta (Canada); and the University of Technology Sydney (AUS). He is also a partner of Advanis Inc., a Canadian market research firm.

He has published in multiple disciplines: Transportation Research Part B, Transportation Research Record, Transportation, Transportation Science, Journal of Econometrics, Journal of Marketing Research, Journal of Marketing, Marketing Science, Journal of Consumer Psychology, Journal of Consumer Research, International Journal of Research in Marketing, Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, Journal of Advertising, Marketing Letters, Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Ecological Economics, Environmental and Resource Economics, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Value in Health, Health Economics, Journal of Business and Economic Statistics, among others.

PSC Brown Bag seminars highlight recent research in population studies and serve as a focal point for building our research community. PSC Brown Bag Archive.

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