Can we assume that research participants are utility maximisers?
Griffith GL., Morrison V., Williams JM., Edwards RT.
The objective of this study was to experimentally examine by means of an information manipulation if respondents are adhering to the utility theory axiom of utility maximisation. A repeated measure experimental design was used. Assessments were conducted pre- and post-intervention with self-administered questionnaires. The study participants were 158 (142 after exclusions) first year undergraduate students, Bangor University (UK). The intervention-information manipulation-did not induce the hypothesised changes in the perceived pros and cons of, or desire for, genetic testing and counselling for breast cancer; correlation revealed a weak relationship between the pros and cons of and desire for testing and counselling. We conclude that there was no evidence of utility maximisation-the key tenet of utility theory-being used. Given the contradiction between the findings of this study and others, there is a need to conduct further research into utility maximisation.