Modelling intransitive preferences: A random-effects approach

Rung Ching Tsai*, Ulf Böckenholt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Current models for individual-level paired comparison data are based on the three assumptions that (1) pairwise judgments are independent, (2) the utility of an item remains invariant across trials, and (3) pair-specific variability can account for intransitive choice behaviour. All three assumptions seem strong and likely to be violated in empirical applications. This paper introduces a new framework for the analysis of paired comparison data which relaxes these three assumptions and considers the utilities associated with the same item across trials to be neither independent nor identical, but related. The proposed approach provides new insights about the reliability and consistency of paired comparison judgments and can account for systematic violations of transitivity. An application, based on a replication of Tversky's [(1969). Intransitivity of preference. Psychological Review, 76, 31-48] gamble study, illustrates the usefulness of the new approach in modelling both transitive and intransitive preferences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Mathematical Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2006 Feb


  • Intransitivity
  • Paired comparison data

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Applied Mathematics


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