Preference estimation from point allocation experiments
Point allocation experiments are widely used in the social sciences. In these experiments, survey respondents distribute a fixed total number of points across a fixed number of alternatives. This paper reviews the different perspectives in the literature about what respondents do when they distribute points across options. We find three main alternative interpretations in the literature, each having different implications for empirical work. We connect these interpretations to models of utility maximization that account for point and budget constraints and investigate the role of budget constraints in more detail. We show how these constraints impact the regression specifications for point allocation experiments that are commonly used in the literature. We also show how a formulation of a taste for variety as entropy that had been previously used to analyse market shares can fruitfully be applied to choice behaviour in point allocation experiments.