New Study May Help Decision Makers Make More Effective Choices When Designing Social Housing Initiatives

The University of Portsmouth has headed new research, which might help decision makers to make more informed choices when planning social housing initiatives.

The new method could help decision-makers make more effective choices when designing social housing initiatives. (Image credit: University of Portsmouth)

The researchers have used the concept of ‘choice architecture’ to develop a novel tool for decision makers. They believe that this tool may help decision-makers in making the best choices when dealing with issues that present a high number of criteria or alternatives.

Choice architecture looks at diverse ways wherein choices can be presented to consumers and the effect of that presentation on consumers’ decision-making process.

In the social housing field for instance, buildings need to be sustainable from a social, economic, and energy standpoint, they should have low operation and construction costs, the services provided by them have to consider the requirements of the inhabitants, and they must be easily usable.

The decision maker also needs to consider ways on how to guarantee an adequate level of profitability for a social operation that appeals to private investments and how to assess the effectiveness of the building and the occupants’ satisfaction.

To assist the decision maker to deal with all this information, the research team has devised a Multicriteria Decision Aiding methodology that processes, structures, and aggregates the data collected, in a simple and understandable manner. The novel method is based on two present techniques—the Non-Additive Robust Ordinal Regression (NAROR) and Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP)—which are used for organizing and examining complex decisions.

The latest methodology assigns a value (utilizing AHP) to the performances of all criteria, to establish the significance and the interaction of criteria (utilizing NAROR), taking into consideration all the potential values for the preference parameters that are well-matched to the preference data provided by the decision maker.

Professor Alessio Ishizaka, the lead author of the study, stated: “Choice architecture influences decision making by simplifying the presentation of options, by evoking particular associations, or by making one option more salient or easier to choose than the alternatives. This transparent, fair and documented outcome provides decision makers with an efficient and fully explainable decision.”

In Italy’s Piedmont region, the Multicriteria Decision Aiding methodology was tested on 21 Social Housing initiatives.

Professor Ishizaka added: “This was a replicate of a previous decision with a simple point system. By working closely with decision makers, they found our method much more precise, well-structured and easy to understand for the stakeholders, and will consider it for use in future decision processes.

The study has appeared in the November issue of the journal Land Use Policy, and also involved researchers from the University of Catania and the Department of Regional and Urban Studies and Planning (DIST) in Italy.

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