Mixed Tree and Spatial Representation of Dissimilarity Judgments

M. Wedel, T.H.A. Bijmolt

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Whereas previous research has shown that either tree or spatial representations of dissimilarity judgments may be appropriate, focussing on the comparative fit at the aggregate level, we investigate whether there is heterogeneity among subjects in the extent to which their dissimilarity judgments are better represented by ultrametric tree or spatial multidimensional scaling models. We develop a mixture model for the analysis of dissimilarity data, that is formulated in a stochastic context, and entails a representation and a measurement model component. The latter involves distributional assumptions on the measurement error, and enables estimation by maximum likelihood. The representation component allows dissimilarity judgments to be represented either by a tree structure or by a spatial configuration, or a mixture of both. In order to investigate the appropriateness of tree versus spatial representations, the model is applied to twenty empirical data sets. We compare the fit of our model with that of aggregate tree and spatial models, as well as with mixtures of pure trees and mixtures of pure spaces, respectively. We formulate some empirical generalizations on the relative importance of tree versus spatial structures in representing dissimilarity judgments at the individual level.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationTilburg
Number of pages38
Publication statusPublished - 1998

Publication series

NameCentER Discussion Paper


  • Multidimensional scaling
  • tree models
  • mixture models
  • dissimilarity judgments


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