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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.

Original publication




Journal article


Eur J Health Econ

Publication Date





187 - 196


Adolescent, Adult, Cohort Studies, Decision Making, Female, Genetic Counseling, Genetic Testing, Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice, Humans, Likelihood Functions, Male, Middle Aged, Random Allocation, Young Adult