Attribute level overlap (and color coding) can reduce task complexity, improve choice consistency, and decrease the dropout rate in discrete choice experiments
A randomized controlled discrete choice experiment (DCE) with 3,320 participating respondents was used to investigate the individual and combined impact of level overlap and color coding on task complexity, choice consistency, survey satisfaction scores, and dropout rates. The systematic differences between the study arms allowed for a direct comparison of dropout rates and cognitive debriefing scores and accommodated the quantitative comparison of respondents' choice consistency using a heteroskedastic mixed logit model. Our results indicate that the introduction of level overlap made it significantly easier for respondents to identify the differences and choose between the choice options. As a stand-alone design strategy, attribute level overlap reduced the dropout rate by 30%, increased the level of choice consistency by 30%, and avoided learning effects in the initial choice tasks of the DCE. The combination of level overlap and color coding was even more effective: It reduced the dropout rate by 40% to 50% and increased the level of choice consistency by more than 60%. Hence, we can recommend attribute level overlap, with color coding to amplify its impact, as a standard design strategy in DCEs.
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Jonker, M.F, Donkers, A.C.D, de Bekker-Grob, E. (Esther), & Stolk, E.A. (2018). Attribute level overlap (and color coding) can reduce task complexity, improve choice consistency, and decrease the dropout rate in discrete choice experiments. Health Economics. doi:10.1002/hec.3846