Yes there have been, but quite some time ago so they may be hard to find in our present day Google world. Studies about the pilot-in-the-loop, who controls the aircraft by interpreting and reacting to the change in the outside world as function of their inputs. But these studies concentrated upon what configuration yields the most rapid and accurate result, and not on what the preference is. I was participant in the graduation project of one of my fellow university students in 1988: using a spring loaded side stick, place a representation of a satellite robot arm into a receptor bay, with different controller configurations. Stick displacement or applied stick force = robot arm rate, or robot arm position.
Force is often overlooked in these discussions, despite it providing an immediate feedback without having to look at where your hand is. We don't have direct position sensors in our hands! Rate feedback is an issue when you want to control a position: the extra integration that your brain needs to perform causes a time delay and estimation errors. Depending on the frequency response of the signals of course, the satellite end effector was very slow and it was very tedious to do anything with it using rate feedback.
We seem to control best when we are presented with an environment that replicates the forces of physics that we are built for. The F16 uses force feedback: the original stick did not move, input was how hard the pilot pulled on it. Then they started coming back with bent side sticks from Really Pulling Hard to out-turn the other guy, and the sticks became moveable, loaded by a stiff spring, but giving an extra force cue when the end of stick deflection was reached. I bet that General Dynamics did not design this control system with the preference of the generic pilot in mind though.
Boeings design choice is the one with the least amount of possible discussion risk: pilots have learned to integrate aircraft rate feedback (from their sensory organs), and have learned certain responses in order to control the aircraft. Airbus seems to be more inclined to incorporate recent research. Like you say, both make excellent aircraft with an excellent safety reputation and dissing one or the other would be a bit childish, really.