We propose a new approach to determine the utilities that consumers attach to different attributes in complex decisions. The approach builds on a recently developed model that posits that cognitive links between alternatives and attributes and between attributes and benefits are more likely to be activated in a consumer’s mental representation of a decision if the expected gains of taking into account these links in terms of achieving better choice outcomes are higher. In this paper we derive how this model can be used to determine the utility of attributes directly from mental representations and extend the model to complex decisions with multiple decision dimensions. We illustrate the approach using data on 594 individuals’ means–end chain responses for a hypothetical combined shopping location, shopping timing, and transportation decision problem

Keywords

Utility model
Attribute importance
Consumer decision making
Mental representations
Means-end chains

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