An Investigation of Intransitive Choice Behavior.
EDUCATIONAL TESTING SERVICE PRINCETON N J
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Individuals are often asked to make choices from all possible pairs of a set of stimuli. For each pair they may have to select the alternative which is heavier, more preferable, more favorable to Blacks, etc. Intransitive or circular choice behavior occurs when an individual selects stimulus A over B, B over C, and then C over A. Three types of explanation have been posited for the existence of circular choices. One suggests that the subject is not taking the necessary effort to make careful choices that is, intransitivities occur due to the individuals sloppiness or carelessness. Since subjects typically seem to make choices in a conscientious manner, this outlook is not very plausible. Another explanation is that intransitivities arise from the close proximity of stimuli on an underlying linear continuum. Thus, even though the subject is conscientious, the stimuli may in some cases be too similar to distinguish. This explanation implies that there is really no difference between intransitivity and inconsistency - the reversal of responses by a subject over two administrations of the same pairs of choices. Author