Abstract

Preference reversals—a decision maker prefers A over B in one situation but B over A in another—demonstrate that human behavior violates invariance assumptions of (utility-based) rational choice theories. In the field of multi-alternative multi-attribute decision-making research, 3 preference reversals received special attention: similarity, attraction, and compromise effects. The 3 so-called context effects are changes in (relative) choice probabilities for 2 choice alternatives after a third “decoy” option is added to the set. Despite their simplicity, the effects demonstrate that choice probabilities in multi-alternative decision making are contingent on the local context, that is, on the choice set under consideration. Because of their simplicity, on the other hand, similarity, attraction, and compromise effects have been successfully examined in numerous studies to date, and they have become of increasing interest for differentiating between computational cognitive process models of multi-alternative multi-attribute decision making. However, the stimulus arrangement for producing the effects seems to vary between studies, which becomes challenging when model accounts are compared. The purpose of this review is to present various paradigms in a coherent way and describe various model accounts based on a common structure.

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