A comparison of representations for discrete multi-criteria decision problems

J. Gettinger, E. Kiesling, C. Stummer, R. Vetschera:
"A comparison of representations for discrete multi-criteria decision problems";
Decision Support Systems,54(2013), S. 976 - 985.

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Discrete multi-criteria decision problems with numerous Pareto-efficient solution candidates place a significant cognitive burden on the decision maker. An interactive, aspiration-based search process that iteratively progresses toward the most preferred solution can alleviate this task. In this paper, we study three ways of representing such problems in a DSS, and compare them in a laboratory experiment using subjective and objective measures of the decision process as well as solution quality and problem understanding. In addition to an immediate user evaluation, we performed a re-evaluation several weeks later. Furthermore, we consider several levels of problem complexity and user characteristics. Results indicate that different problem representations have a considerable influence on search behavior, although long-term consistency appears to remain unaffected. We also found interesting discrepancies between subjective evaluations and objective measures. Conclusions from our experiments can help designers of DSS for large multi-criteria decision problems to fit problem representations to the goals of their system and the specific task at hand.