Paired Comparison

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Paired comparison is a practical technique for comparing up to; say 10-15 items (ideas, options or criteria etc.) – i.e. too many to rank easily just by inspection, but not so many that the table size becomes unmanageable. However, if a larger comparison is necessary then you can use the same principle with computer aided methods such Interpretive structural modeling

This example matrix shows a personal choice amongst seven different fruit

(A)Apple (O)Orange (M)Melon (K)Kiwi (B)Banana (P)Pear Total stars for each fruit over whole table
(C) Cherries
C
***
C
*
C
**
C
*
C
*
C
*
Cherries get 9
(A)Apple
O
***
M
*
A
**
B
*
P
*
Apples get 2
(O)Orange
M
*
O
**
B
*
P
*
Oranges get 5
(M)Melon
M
**
B
*
M
**
Melons get 6
(K)Kiwi
B
*
K
**
Kiwis get 2
(B)Banana
P
*
Bananas get 4
(P)Pear
Pears get 3
  1. Arrange a matrix as show above, giving each item a unique one-letter abbreviation (e.g. O for Orange in the example).
  2. Mark each cell in the matrix to indicate which fruit you prefer of the two items it represents. You could also show how strong each preference is as the example illustrates. For instance, in the example
    • ‘C ***’ means: Cherries very much preferred
    • ‘B *’ means: Bananas slightly preferred’
  3. Now sum up the total number of preferences or ‘*’s each item has. For instance:
    • There are 6 cells where Cherries are preferred (‘C’) which between them have 9‘*’s, thus Cherries get a total score of 9.
    • Conversely there are only 2 cells where Oranges are preferred (‘O’) with 5 ‘*’s between them, so Oranges get a total score of 5.
  4. These total scores are shown in the right-hand column. Clearly, Cherries win by quite a wide margin, followed by Melons, Bananas and Pears.