Equalizing bias in eliciting attribute weights in multiattribute decision-making: experimental research

Jafar Rezaei*, Alireza Arab, Mohammadreza Mehregan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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One of the most important steps in formulating and solving a multiattribute decision-making (MADM) problem is weighting the attributes. Most existing weighting methods are based on judgments by experts/decision-makers, which are prone to several cognitive biases, making it necessary to examine these biases in MADM weighting methods and develop debiasing strategies. This study uses experimental analysis to look at equalizing bias—one of the main cognitive biases, where decision-makers tend to assign the same weight to different attributes—in MADM methods. More specifically, we look at AHP (analytic hierarchy process), BWM (best-worst method), PA (point allocation), SMART (simple multiattribute rating technique), and Swing methods under two structuring formats, hierarchical and non-hierarchical. To empirically examine the existence of equalizing bias in these methods, we formulate several hypotheses, which are tested using a public transportation mode selection problem among 146 university students. The results indicate that AHP and BWM have less equalizing bias than SMART, Swing, and PA, and that the hierarchical problem structuring leads to a reduction in the equalizing bias in all five methods and that such a reduction significantly varies among the methods. Our findings prove some debiasing strategies suggested in existing literature, which could be used by real decision-makers (when selecting a method) as well as researchers (when developing new methods).

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Behavioral Decision Making
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • cognitive bias
  • equalizing bias
  • experimental analysis
  • multiattribute decision-making
  • weighting


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