[EM] cyclic preferences

James Green-Armytage jarmyta at antioch-college.edu
Thu Aug 5 15:14:01 PDT 2004

Forest Simmons <fsimmons at pcc.edu> writes:
>I sympathize with the sentiments of those who would like to allow
>expression of intransitive preferences.
>In February of 1967 when I took "aptitude" tests after being sworn into
>the US Army, I noticed that there were lots of questions of preference,
>for example, one was,"Do you like working at a desk better than being
>It would be very easy to create a cycle in your answers to this multitude
>of questions, especially if you enjoyed a variety of activities both
>indoors and out, both mental and physical, both individual and team, etc.

	Yes, absolutely, when you are faced with a dizzying array of options and
you don't have time to sort it out, you can end up expressing cyclic
preferences. This doesn't mean that you're irrational or stupid as a
person, it just means that you didn't really have the time to sort it all
	Arranging the options on a ranked list is precisely what helps you to
sort it out. When making the list, it is important that you are able to
change the rankings of already-ranked candidates as you go along, to add
new candidates, move candidates higher and lower on the list, etc. This
clarifies things. If you feel ambivalent about the relative merits of two
or three options, you can just rank them equal to each other. There is no
need to put them in a cycle with each other.

my best,

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