Skip to main content

All Access Pass: All Guilford journals, $49.95 for 3 months | Click on any article to purchase

Using Conjoint Analysis to Detect Discrimination: Revealing Covert Preferences From Overt Choices

In an effort to continue the development of methods to understand social cognition, we adopt a technique called conjoint analysis that mathematically deduces preferences from the implied tradeoffs people make when choosing between sets of attributes at varying levels. We asked 101 students to make a series of choices between prospective teammates in a trivia contest who varied on three dimensions relevant to the decisions (education, IQ, experience) and one dimension that was irrelevant (body weight). Although participants stated explicitly that weight had little impact on their decisions, weight actually accounted for more than 25% of the variance in their revealed preferences. Additional analyses demonstrated that participants gave up about 11 IQ points to have a thin rather than overweight teammate. We suggest that conjoint analysis can be a valuable tool for detecting and quantifying the social costs of covert attitudes that are not in sync with overt values.