Kurt's Blog

October 30, 2010

Interesting Decision Making System–But is it fair?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kurt Häusler @ 10:39 am

My wife and I were discussing who should go shopping and who should stay at home, and whether our child should come shopping with us. We both had our own preferences but couldn’t heuristically or intuitively decide which scenario was the most fair to everyone. So we decided to list each of the five scenarios on paper, and assign points indicating how we feel about the scenario. The scenario with the total number of points would be selected.

Here are the results:

Scenario Kurt’s points Wife’s points Total
Wife goes shopping with the child while Kurt relaxes in peace at home. 5 2 7
Wife goes shopping while Kurt looks after child at home. 4 1 5
Kurt goes shopping with the child while wife relaxes in peace at home. 1 5 6
Kurt goes shopping while wife looks after child at home. 3 3 6
All three go shopping as a family. 2 4 6

So the selected option was the first one, which happened to be my favourite, and my wife’s second least favourite. We are wondering if the system is fair. It seems as though the result came out rather strongly in my favour, but we expected the system to favour a more compromising position, somewhere in the middle. The way I currently interpret the result is to say that her favourite option displeases me more than my favourite option displeases her, so that is why my favourite option was selected.

I suspect we would be more interested in using such a system if it were more likely to result in one of the compromise positions, for example in this case, we noticed that we both gave three points to the same scenario, representing the scenario that we both felt was halfway between most favoured and least favoured. We wondered if some sort of weighting system could be used to favour a compromise position, but we couldn’t think of anything. We tried multiplying rather than adding the points, but ended up with same result. Averaging the points gives the same result too of course.

Then I looked at comparing the differences between the points we assigned, and considered the scenario with the lowest difference to be preferred. This is the outcome:

Scenario Difference
Wife goes shopping with the child while Kurt relaxes in peace at home. 3
Wife goes shopping while Kurt looks after child at home. 3
Kurt goes shopping with the child while wife relaxes in peace at home. 4
Kurt goes shopping while wife looks after child at home. 0
All three go shopping as a family. 2

With this system the compromise positions are favoured which appears more fair. So which to use? I suspect when making future decisions we will try the second system and see if it seems fair. Perhaps certain systems are better for different types of decision?

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2 Comments »

  1. It turns out the second system doesn’t work at all. If there is a option that is the worst for both of us, and we both give it a score of 1, it will get picked. Back to the drawing board.

    Comment by Kurt Häusler — October 30, 2010 @ 4:10 pm

  2. Exactly! The answer is – you have to combine the both systems! I have to figure out the formula, but I feel that it is possible.

    Comment by Arturo — November 26, 2012 @ 11:33 am


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