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Existing research demonstrates that parents are poorly informed consumers of early childhood education and care (ECEC) services. Choosing such services is a complex process shaped by a combination of logistical limitations (e.g., cost/location), informational barriers and ideas about what the goal of care should be (e.g., education of young children or provision of an environment that feels like home). Experimental studies have also demonstrated that when study participants are informed of the importance of a specific decision, they engage in more complex decision-making. In this article, we test whether providing parents with information about the regulatory stringency of ECEC options available influences their choices regarding ECEC. A conjoint survey designed to capture quasi-behavioural choices for ECEC services was completed by 682 parents. Before engaging with the survey, participants were randomly assigned into either a control group or a treatment group that informed them about the stringency of oversight regarding ECEC options available in the province of Ontario, Canada. Receiving information did not meaningfully change the choices of the entire sample. However, a subgroup analysis revealed an important information effect on parent decisions for lower income/lower-education parents.
In many Latin American countries, social policy preferences among economically vulnerable citizens seem largely unpolarized. However, current studies rarely confront citizens with realistic policy options and often lack the required detail to capture the heterogeneity of economic vulnerability. Drawing on the dualization debate, we expect individuals facing different degrees of vulnerability to show distinct social policy preferences. Using original survey data from Mexico and a conjoint experiment, our findings reveal a complex divide, where the most economically vulnerable are least supportive of public solutions. Sharing the home with a formal labor market participant does not seem to mitigate social policy skepticism among the vulnerable. In contrast, magnified vulnerability via household composition reduces support for welfare policy expansion. Social policy preferences become much less distinct when policy design alternatives are introduced, suggesting reduced expectations about the state’s role and a lack of clarity about the tangible benefits of social policy reform.
Numerous studies have demonstrated that the provision of early childhood education and childcare services (ECEC) is associated with higher women’s participation in the labor market. However, many questions about the causal relationship between the supply of childcare and patterns of female employment remain open. In an effort to overcome common endogeneity problems, we conducted a conjoint experiment in Switzerland, which enables us to analyze mothers’ employment intentions in different – and even in some hypothetical – contexts. Our results demonstrate that improving the provision of ECEC services does affect mothers’ intentions to engage in paid labor. Nevertheless, mothers comprise a heterogeneous group. As expected, ECEC services’ effects are limited for mothers with comparatively high levels of employment. In contrast, mothers with low levels of employment are quite reactive to changing policy contexts, especially if external childcare spots for preschoolers become affordable. Notably, elasticity is present not only in the behavior of women with preferences for supplementary, external childcare, but also in that of women with preferences for parental or home-centered childcare. Our study thus highlights childcare policies’ potential to change the patterns of female employment in contexts marked by persistent traditional gender roles and limited childcare provision.
Although consumers' interest in organic products has increased in recent years, the total demand for these products is still small in most countries. This mismatch between the positive perception of these products and their limited final demand is the so-called intention-behavior gap. The aim of this study is twofold. The first aim is to evaluate the effect of self-reported attitudes toward organic foods in the willingness to pay (WTP) for these products. Second, we analyze the effects of these self-reported attitudes in the final purchasing decision when consumers are asked to evaluate several food attributes simultaneously. The results show that self-reported attitudes toward organic products are useful predictors of higher WTP and can be arranged in different categories (range 15.2–20.1%). However, when a conjoint analysis of different food attributes was conducted, the segment of pro-organic consumers reported that the origin of the product was more important for them than the production system. This opens a new debate about the advisability of promoting the joint use of both labels (organic and origin labels) to engage pro-organic consumers.
Citizens that tend to experience political exclusion are often more supportive of direct and participatory forms of decision-making. We empirically verify two competing explanatory logics for such high support: the “anti-establishment” logic, which expects politically excluded citizens to unconditionally express more support than their fellow citizens for democratic innovations (DIs); and the “instrumental” logic, which expects politically excluded citizens to only express more support for DIs than other citizens when these innovations offer procedural control and favorable outcomes. Based on a conjoint analysis of Dutch citizens' preferences for participatory budgeting, we find no support for the anti-establishment logic and partial support for the instrumental logic. We show how measures of citizens' own feelings of exclusion help to explain the results.
Forced-choice conjoint experiments have become a standard component of the experimental toolbox in political science and sociology. Yet the literature has largely overlooked the fact that conjoint experiments can be used for two distinct purposes: to uncover respondents’ multidimensional preferences, and to estimate the causal effects of some attributes on a profile’s selection probability in a multidimensional choice setting. This paper makes the argument that this distinction is both analytically and practically relevant, because the quantity of interest is contingent on the purpose of the study. The vast majority of social scientists relying on conjoint analyses, including most scholars interested in studying preferences, have adopted the average marginal component effect (AMCE) as their main quantity of interest. The paper shows that the AMCE is neither conceptually nor practically suited to explore respondents’ preferences. Not only is it essentially a causal quantity conceptually at odds with the goal of describing patterns of preferences, but it also does generally not identify preferences, mixing them with compositional effects unrelated to preferences. This paper proposes a novel estimand—the average component preference—designed to explore patterns of preferences, and it presents a method for estimating it.
How can we elicit honest responses in surveys? Conjoint analysis has become a popular tool to address social desirability bias (SDB), or systematic survey misreporting on sensitive topics. However, there has been no direct evidence showing its suitability for this purpose. We propose a novel experimental design to identify conjoint analysis’s ability to mitigate SDB. Specifically, we compare a standard, fully randomized conjoint design against a partially randomized design where only the sensitive attribute is varied between the two profiles in each task. We also include a control condition to remove confounding due to the increased attention to the varying attribute under the partially randomized design. We implement this empirical strategy in two studies on attitudes about environmental conservation and preferences about congressional candidates. In both studies, our estimates indicate that the fully randomized conjoint design could reduce SDB for the average marginal component effect (AMCE) of the sensitive attribute by about two-thirds of the AMCE itself. Although encouraging, we caution that our results are exploratory and exhibit some sensitivity to alternative model specifications, suggesting the need for additional confirmatory evidence based on the proposed design.
The article offers an overview of the use of survey experiments in political research by relying on available examples, bibliographic data and a content analysis of experimental manuscripts published in leading academic journals over the last two decades. After a short primer to the experimental approach, we discuss the development, applications and potential problems to internal and external validity in survey experimentation. The article also provides original examples, contrasting a traditional factorial and a more innovative conjoint design, to show how survey experiments can be used to test theory on relevant political topics. The main challenges and possibilities encountered in envisaging, planning and implementing survey experiments are examined. The article outlines the merits, limits and implications of the use of the experimental method in political research.
Conjoint experiments are quickly gaining popularity as a vehicle for studying multidimensional political preferences. A common way to explore heterogeneity of preferences estimated with conjoint experiments is by estimating average marginal component effects across subgroups. However, this method does not give the researcher the full access to the variation of preferences in the studied populations, as that would require estimating effects on the individual level. Currently, there is no accepted technique to obtain estimates of individual-level preferences from conjoint experiments. The present paper addresses this gap by proposing a procedure to estimate individual preferences as respondent-specific marginal component effects. The proposed strategy does not require any additional assumptions compared to the standard conjoint analysis, although some changes to the task design are recommended. Methods to account for uncertainty in resulting estimates are also discussed. Using the proposed procedure, I partially replicate a conjoint experiment on immigrant admission with recommended design adjustments. Then, I demonstrate how individual marginal component effects can be used to explore distributions of preferences, intercorrelations between different preference dimensions, and relationships of preferences to other variables of interest.
Conjoint analysis has become popular among social scientists for measuring multidimensional preferences. When analyzing such experiments, researchers often focus on the average marginal component effect (AMCE), which represents the causal effect of a single profile attribute while averaging over the remaining attributes. What has been overlooked, however, is the fact that the AMCE critically relies upon the distribution of the other attributes used for the averaging. Although most experiments employ the uniform distribution, which equally weights each profile, both the actual distribution of profiles in the real world and the distribution of theoretical interest are often far from uniform. This mismatch can severely compromise the external validity of conjoint analysis. We empirically demonstrate that estimates of the AMCE can be substantially different when averaging over the target profile distribution instead of uniform. We propose new experimental designs and estimation methods that incorporate substantive knowledge about the profile distribution. We illustrate our methodology through two empirical applications, one using a real-world distribution and the other based on a counterfactual distribution motivated by a theoretical consideration. The proposed methodology is implemented through an open-source software package.
This study examines how characteristics of participatory processes affect citizens’ evaluations of such processes and thereby establish what kind of participatory process citizens demand. The literature on democratic innovations has proposed different criteria for evaluating participatory innovations. What remains unclear, however, is how citizens evaluate these participatory mechanisms. This is here examined in a conjoint analysis embedded in a representative survey of the Finnish population (n = 1050). The conjoint analysis examines the impact of inclusiveness, popular control, considered judgment, transparency, efficiency, and transferability on citizens’ evaluations of participatory processes. Furthermore, it is examined whether the evaluations differ by the policy issues and process preferences of the respondents. The results show that people want transparent participatory processes with face-to-face interaction among participants and expert advice to deal with complicated issues. The participatory processes should also be advisory and should not include too many meetings. These effects appear to be uniform across policy issues and do not depend on the process preferences of citizens.
Fully randomized conjoint analysis can mitigate many of the shortcomings of traditional survey methods in estimating attitudes on controversial topics. This chapter explains how we applied conjoint analysis at seven universities and describes the population of participants in our experiments.
Media, politicians, and the courts portray college campuses as divided over diversity and affirmative action. But what do students and faculty really think? This book uses a novel technique to elicit honest opinions from students and faculty and measure preferences for diversity in undergraduate admissions and faculty recruitment at seven major universities, breaking out attitudes by participants' race, ethnicity, gender, socio-economic status, and political partisanship. Scholarly excellence is a top priority everywhere, but the authors show that when students consider individual candidates, they favor members of all traditionally underrepresented groups - by race, ethnicity, gender, and socio-economic background. Moreover, there is little evidence of polarization in the attitudes of different student groups. The book reveals that campus communities are less deeply divided than they are often portrayed to be; although affirmative action remains controversial in the abstract, there is broad support for prioritizing diversity in practice.
What type of trade agreement is the public willing to accept? Instead of focusing on individual concerns about market access and trade barriers, we argue that specific treaty design and, in particular, the characteristics of the dispute settlement mechanism, play a critical role in shaping public support for trade agreements. To examine this theoretical expectation, we conduct a conjoint experiment that varies diverse treaty-design elements and estimate preferences over multiple dimensions of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) based on a nationally representative sample in Germany. We find that compared to other alternatives, private arbitration, known as investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS), generates strong opposition to the trade agreement. As the single most important factor, this effect of dispute settlement characteristic is strikingly large and consistent across individuals’ key attributes, including skill levels, information, and national sentiment, among others.
Conjoint analysis is a common tool for studying political preferences. The method disentangles patterns in respondents’ favorability toward complex, multidimensional objects, such as candidates or policies. Most conjoints rely upon a fully randomized design to generate average marginal component effects (AMCEs). They measure the degree to which a given value of a conjoint profile feature increases, or decreases, respondents’ support for the overall profile relative to a baseline, averaging across all respondents and other features. While the AMCE has a clear causal interpretation (about the effect of features), most published conjoint analyses also use AMCEs to describe levels of favorability. This often means comparing AMCEs among respondent subgroups. We show that using conditional AMCEs to describe the degree of subgroup agreement can be misleading as regression interactions are sensitive to the reference category used in the analysis. This leads to inferences about subgroup differences in preferences that have arbitrary sign, size, and significance. We demonstrate the problem using examples drawn from published articles and provide suggestions for improved reporting and interpretation using marginal means and an omnibus F-test. Given the accelerating use of these designs in political science, we offer advice for best practice in analysis and presentation of results.
Recent years have seen a renaissance of conjoint survey designs within social science. To date, however, researchers have lacked guidance on how many attributes they can include within conjoint profiles before survey satisficing leads to unacceptable declines in response quality. This paper addresses that question using pre-registered, two-stage experiments examining choices among hypothetical candidates for US Senate or hotel rooms. In each experiment, we use the first stage to identify attributes which are perceived to be uncorrelated with the attribute of interest, so that their effects are not masked by those of the core attributes. In the second stage, we randomly assign respondents to conjoint designs with varying numbers of those filler attributes. We report the results of these experiments implemented via Amazon's Mechanical Turk and Survey Sampling International. They demonstrate that our core quantities of interest are generally stable, with relatively modest increases in survey satisficing when respondents face large numbers of attributes.
Consumers’ choice of services and the product platforms that deliver them, such as apps and mobile devices, or eBooks and eReaders, are becoming inextricably interrelated. Market viability demands that product–service combinations be compatible across multiple producers and service channels, and that the producers’ profitability must include both service and product design. Some services may be delivered contractually or physically, through a wider range of products than others. Thus, optimization of producers’ contingent products, services, and channel decisions becomes a combined decision problem. This article examines three common product–service design scenarios: exclusive, non-exclusive asymmetric, and non-exclusive symmetric. An enterprise-wide decision framework has been proposed to optimize integrated services and products for each scenario. Optimization results provide guidelines for strategies that are mutually profitable for partner–competitor firms. The article examines an example of an eBook service and tablet, with market-level information from four firms (Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Google) and conjoint-based product–service choice data to illustrate the proposed framework using a scalable sequential optimization algorithm. The results suggest that firms in market equilibrium can markedly differ in the services they seek to provide via other firms’ products and demonstrate the interrelationship among marketing, services, and product design.
Representative democracy entails the aggregation of multiple policy issues by parties into competing bundles of policies, or “manifestos,” which are then evaluated holistically by voters in elections. This aggregation process obscures the multidimensional policy preferences underlying a voter’s single choice of party or candidate. We address this problem through a conjoint experiment based on the actual party manifestos in Japan’s 2014 House of Representatives election. By juxtaposing sets of issue positions as hypothetical manifestos and asking respondents to choose one, our study identifies the effects of specific positions on the overall assessment of manifestos, heterogeneity in preferences among subgroups of respondents, and the popularity ranking of manifestos. Our analysis uncovers important discrepancies between voter preferences and the portrayal of the election results by politicians and the media as providing a policy mandate to the Liberal Democratic Party, underscoring the potential danger of inferring public opinion from election outcomes alone.
Foreign direct investment (FDI) into developing countries such as India and China is often met with domestic backlash by the citizens of the host country, and backlash in the form of protests and other disruptive behavior has increased the salience of public opinion in FDI policy. As one of the first survey experiments assessing Chinese citizens’ attitudes toward FDI, this paper adopts a novel conjoint design to evaluate the impact, in the present project, of individual respondent characteristics and specific FDI features on respondents’ preferences. Importantly, we find that low-skilled respondents are not necessarily more likely to support labor-intensive FDI, a result that challenges the conventional wisdom that individuals in developing countries abundantly endowed with labor should be more likely to support low-skilled FDI. Instead, citizens are more concerned about FDI projects’ country of origin and impact on the local job market when forming their preferences.
Corn containing high levels of available phosphorus (HAP) allows poultry to use more of the phosphorus they consume and could potentially reduce contamination of water from run-off. This study uses a conjoint analysis survey of Delmarva corn growers to model adoption of hypothetical HAP varieties over a three-year period. An optimal variety has a low technology fee and yield drag and a high harvest premium. Adoption of HAP corn increases during the period although growers’ tolerance of technology fees and yield drags diminishes over time. Adoption is further affected by farm size, farmer age, and the portion of income from corn.