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Complexity in choice experiments: choice of the status quo alternative and implications for welfare measurement

  • Peter Boxall
  • W. L. (Vic) Adamowicz
  • Amanda Moon

We examine the propensity of respondents to choose the status quo (SQ) or current situation alternative as a function of complexity in two separate state-of-the-world choice experiments. Complexity in each choice set was characterized as the number of single and multiple changes in levels of attributes from the current situation and the order of the choice task in the sequence of multiple tasks provided to respondents. We show that increasing complexity leads to increased choice of the SQ and that a respondent's age and level of education also influenced this choice. We outline the effects of the alternate approaches for incorporating the SQ into welfare measurement. These findings have implications for the design of stated preference experiments, examining passive use values and for empirical analysis leading to welfare measurement. Copyright 2009 The Authors. Journal compilation 2009 Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society Inc. and Blackwell Publishing Asia Pty Ltd.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/j.1467-8489.2009.00469.x
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Article provided by Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society in its journal Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics.

Volume (Year): 53 (2009)
Issue (Month): 4 (October)
Pages: 503-519

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Handle: RePEc:bla:ajarec:v:53:y:2009:i:4:p:503-519
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  1. John Beshears & James Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte Madrian, 2008. "How are Preferences Revealed?," Yale School of Management Working Papers amz2466, Yale School of Management.
  2. Dhar, Ravi, 1997. " Consumer Preference for a No-Choice Option," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(2), pages 215-31, September.
  3. Krinsky, Itzhak & Robb, A Leslie, 1986. "On Approximating the Statistical Properties of Elasticities," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 68(4), pages 715-19, November.
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  6. Samuelson, William & Zeckhauser, Richard, 1988. " Status Quo Bias in Decision Making," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 7-59, March.
  7. DeShazo, J. R. & Fermo, German, 2002. "Designing Choice Sets for Stated Preference Methods: The Effects of Complexity on Choice Consistency," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 123-143, July.
  8. Jordan J. Louviere & Towhidul Islam & Nada Wasi & Deborah Street & Leonie Burgess, 2008. "Designing Discrete Choice Experiments: Do Optimal Designs Come at a Price?," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 35(2), pages 360-375, 03.
  9. Hartman, Raymond S. & Donae, Michael J. & Woo, Chi-Keung, 1990. "Status quo bias in the measurement of value of service," Resources and Energy, Elsevier, vol. 12(2), pages 197-214, July.
  10. Wiktor Adamowicz & Peter Boxall & Michael Williams & Jordan Louviere, 1998. "Stated Preference Approaches for Measuring Passive Use Values: Choice Experiments and Contingent Valuation," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 80(1), pages 64-75.
  11. David Hensher & William Greene, 2003. "The Mixed Logit model: The state of practice," Transportation, Springer, vol. 30(2), pages 133-176, May.
  12. Ritov, Ilana & Baron, Jonathan, 1992. " Status-Quo and Omission Biases," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 5(1), pages 49-61, February.
  13. Marisa J. Mazzotta & James J. Opaluch, 1995. "Decision Making When Choices Are Complex: A Test of Heiner's Hypothesis," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 71(4), pages 500-515.
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