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Can Hypothetical Questions Reveal True Values? A Laboratory Comparison of Dichotomous Choice and Open-Ended Contingent Values with Auction Values

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  • Balistreri, Edward J.
  • Poe, Gregory L.
  • McClelland, Gary H.
  • Schulze, William D.

Abstract

Can hypothetical questions reveal true values? An examination of the laboratory experimental literature examining contingent valuation (CV) lends some support for using open ended hypothetical willingness to pay questions. However, experimental studies examining dichotomous choice have found that hypothetical answers overstate demand. Consistent with the experimental literature, published CV studies comparing open-ended to dichotomous choice questions have shown that values from the latter method equal or exceed those of the former in every case. This paper presents a series of experiments employing more than 800 subjects to test this hypothesis for CV and compares the CV results to actual auction values in a single controlled experimental environment.

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Paper provided by Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management in its series Working Papers with number 127865.

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Date of creation: Nov 1996
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Handle: RePEc:ags:cudawp:127865

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Keywords: Research Methods/ Statistical Methods;

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  1. Smith, Vernon L & Walker, James M, 1993. "Monetary Rewards and Decision Cost in Experimental Economics," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, Western Economic Association International, vol. 31(2), pages 245-61, April.
  2. Fox, John A. & Shogren, J. & Hayes, Dermot J. & Kliebenstein, James, 2003. "Cvm-X: Calibrating Contingent Values with Experimental Auction Markets," Staff General Research Papers 11935, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  3. Helen R. Neill & Ronald G. Cummings & Philip T. Ganderton & Glenn W. Harrison & Thomas McGuckin, 1994. "Hypothetical Surveys and Real Economic Commitments," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 70(2), pages 145-154.
  4. Shogren, Jason F. & Shin, Seung Youll & Hayes, Dermot J. & Kliebenstein, James, 1994. "Resolving Differences in Willingness to Pay and Willingness to Accept," Staff General Research Papers 701, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  5. Barbara J. Kanninen, 1993. "Optimal Experimental Design for Double-Bounded Dichotomous Choice Contingent Valuation," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 69(2), pages 138-146.
  6. John Loomis & Thomas Brown & Beatrice Lucero & George Peterson, 1997. "Evaluating the Validity of the Dichotomous Choice Question Format in Contingent Valuation," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 10(2), pages 109-123, September.
  7. Smith, Vernon L & Walker, James M, 1993. "Rewards, Experience and Decision Costs in First Price Auctions," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, Western Economic Association International, vol. 31(2), pages 237-45, April.
  8. Joseph Cooper & John Loomis, 1992. "Sensitivity of Willingness-to-Pay Estimates to Bid Design in Dichotomous Choice Contingent Valuation Models," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 68(2), pages 211-224.
  9. Kagel, John H & Harstad, Ronald M & Levin, Dan, 1987. "Information Impact and Allocation Rules in Auctions with Affiliated Private Values: A Laboratory Study," Econometrica, Econometric Society, Econometric Society, vol. 55(6), pages 1275-1304, November.
  10. Kanninen Barbara J., 1995. "Bias in Discrete Response Contingent Valuation," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 114-125, January.
  11. Levin, Dan & Kagel, John H & Richard, Jean-Francois, 1996. "Revenue Effects and Information Processing in English Common Value Auctions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 442-60, June.
  12. Cummings, Ronald G & Harrison, Glenn W & Rutstrom, E Elisabet, 1995. "Homegrown Values and Hypothetical Surveys: Is the Dichotomous Choice Approach Incentive-Compatible?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(1), pages 260-66, March.
  13. McClelland, Gary H & Schulze, William D & Coursey, Don L, 1993. " Insurance for Low-Probability Hazards: A Bimodal Response to Unlikely Events," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, Springer, vol. 7(1), pages 95-116, August.
  14. Smith, Vernon L, 1982. "Microeconomic Systems as an Experimental Science," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(5), pages 923-55, December.
  15. Trudy Ann Cameron, 1991. "Interval Estimates of Non-Market Resource Values from Referendum Contingent Valuation Surveys," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 67(4), pages 413-421.
  16. Cummings, Ronald G, et al, 1997. "Are Hypothetical Referenda Incentive Compatible?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(3), pages 609-21, June.
  17. Timothy Park & John B. Loomis & Michael Creel, 1991. "Confidence Intervals for Evaluating Benefits Estimates from Dichotomous Choice Contingent Valuation Studies," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 67(1), pages 64-73.
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