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An Investigation of Intransitive Choice Behavior

Tucker, William H.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
National Science Foundation (NSF), Office of Naval Research, Behavioral Science Research, Forced Choice Technique, General Goals of Life Questionnaire, Occupations Questionnaire, Offenses Questionnaire, Payments Questionnaire


Five questionnaires were administered to a group of subjects on two separate occasions. The principal concerns were the following: (l) to find evidence for the existence of stable (i.e., over testings) circular triads, (2) To investigate the appropriateness of the additive difference model. If such stable circularities are found, and (3) if such evidence is not found, to investigate the intransitivity-as-inconsistency explanation by exploring the relationship between circular triads and changes in response to individual items over the two administrations. With the exception of one subject on one questionnaire, no such evidence for stable intransitivities was found. Consequently, the inconsistency explanation was investigated by a factor analysis of nine variables derived from the subjects' choices. These variables were measures of consistency, transitivity and discrimination among stimuli. Results of this analysis suggest that the assumption of circular choices as synonymous with inconsistency is upheld for three of the five questionnaires. In this questionnaire, statements about Vietnam are presented to the subject in pairs, and he or she is asked to choose which of the pair better represents his or her own opinion. There are 15 statements producing a paired comparison task of 105 items. (See TM001 310) (MS) (116pp.)

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