What Is Ordinal Utility?

Are you curious to know what is ordinal utility? You have come to the right place as I am going to tell you everything about ordinal utility in a very simple explanation. Without further discussion let’s begin to know what is ordinal utility?

In the domain of economics, the concept of utility plays a pivotal role in understanding consumer preferences and decision-making. Among the various forms of utility, ordinal utility stands as a fundamental principle that elucidates the ranking of preferences without quantifying their intensity. Understanding the essence and implications of ordinal utility unveils its significance in analyzing consumer behavior and choices within economic frameworks.

What Is Ordinal Utility?

Ordinal utility refers to the ranking or ordering of preferences that consumers assign to different goods and services based on their relative satisfaction or desirability. Unlike cardinal utility, which quantifies utility in numerical terms, ordinal utility solely focuses on the ranking of preferences, indicating which goods or services are preferred more or less than others without assigning specific numerical values to the level of satisfaction.

Characteristics Of Ordinal Utility:

  • Ranking Preferences: Ordinal utility enables the arrangement of preferences in a hierarchical order, indicating the relative satisfaction or desirability of different choices.
  • Indifference Curves: In graphical representations, ordinal utility is depicted through indifference curves, showing combinations of goods that provide the same level of satisfaction or utility to the consumer.
  • Subjective Nature: Ordinal utility is subjective, varying from individual to individual, as it focuses on the ordinal ranking of preferences rather than quantifying the absolute level of satisfaction.

Significance In Economics:

  • Consumer Choice: Ordinal utility aids in understanding how consumers make choices among various goods and services based on their preferences and rankings.
  • Budget Allocation: It assists in analyzing how consumers allocate their limited budgets to maximize satisfaction, considering the ordinal ranking of preferences.
  • Indifference Analysis: Through indifference curves, ordinal utility helps economists analyze trade-offs and understand the combinations of goods that provide equal satisfaction to consumers.

Limitations And Considerations:

  • Lack of Quantification: Ordinal utility does not provide a measure of the actual level of satisfaction or utility derived from goods; it only indicates the ranking of preferences.
  • Assumption of Rationality: It assumes that consumers make rational decisions based on their ordinal preferences, which might not always align with real-world behavior.


Ordinal utility serves as a foundational concept in economics, aiding in the analysis of consumer behavior and preferences. By focusing on the ranking of preferences rather than quantifying utility, it provides insights into how individuals make choices among various goods and services, guiding economists in understanding consumer decision-making within economic models.

While ordinal utility offers valuable insights into consumer behavior, it’s essential to acknowledge its limitations and the complexities of human decision-making. Nevertheless, its significance in elucidating preferences and aiding economic analyses remains integral to understanding the fundamental principles that govern consumer choices within economic frameworks.


What Is An Example Of Cardinal Utility?

In other words, they hold that utility is a measurable and quantifiable entity. For example, According to cardinal utility approach, if a person is drinking a glass of water, it will be possible for him to assign some numerical value say 10 utils or 20 utils to the utility derived from it.

What Is Ordinal Utility And Assumption?

Ordinal utility analysis is a type of utility analysis that is based on the ranking of goods and services rather than on their absolute values. The analysis assumes that consumers are rational, which means that they have a well-defined preference ordering of the goods and services they consume.

Who Introduced Ordinal Utility?

Hicks and Allen were British economist who collaborated with each other to develop the theory of ordinal utility in 1934. The theory describes that the consumer derives utility as high or low when they take rational decision while purchasing a commodity.

What Is Utility With Example?

Generally speaking, utility refers to the degree of pleasure or satisfaction (or removed discomfort) that an individual receives from an economic act. An example would be a consumer purchasing a hamburger to alleviate hunger pangs and to enjoy a tasty meal, providing her with some utility.

I Have Covered All The Following Queries And Topics In The Above Article

What Is Cardinal And Ordinal Utility

What Is Ordinal Utility Analysis

What Is Cardinal Utility And Ordinal Utility

What Is Ordinal Utility With Example

What Is Ordinal Utility In Economics

What Is Ordinal Utility Pdf

Cardinal Utility

What Is Ordinal Utility Class 11

Assumptions Of Ordinal Utility

Ordinal Utility Analysis

Ordinal Utility Diagram

What Is Ordinal Utility