IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Bounded rationality in contingent valuation: Empirical evidence using cognitive psychology

  • Frör, Oliver
Registered author(s):

    Survey based valuation techniques like the Contingent Valuation Method (CVM) rely particularly on the premise of respondents' rationality when answering willingness to pay (WTP) questions. Results of CVM surveys have repeatedly put this fundamental assumption into question. This study adopts a more realistic view of rationality accounting for respondents' limited capacities to process information. Based on cognitive psychology a technique to detect and analyze the bounds of rationality inherent in WTP statements is developed. Using an empirical example, the influence of bounded rationality on the validity of CVM results is analyzed. It is shown that individual differences in information processing play a major role for the validity of CVM responses. The results allow new insights into response behavior in dichotomous-choice versus payment card elicitation formats. From the results of this study recommendations for future survey designs taking into account respondents' different information processing modes are developed.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Ecological Economics.

    Volume (Year): 68 (2008)
    Issue (Month): 1-2 (December)
    Pages: 570-581

    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:68:y:2008:i:1-2:p:570-581
    Contact details of provider: Web page:

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

    as in new window
    1. Welsh, Michael P. & Poe, Gregory L., 1998. "Elicitation Effects in Contingent Valuation: Comparisons to a Multiple Bounded Discrete Choice Approach," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 170-185, September.
    2. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L., 1992. "Valuing public goods: The purchase of moral satisfaction," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 57-70, January.
    3. John Conlisk, 1996. "Why Bounded Rationality?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(2), pages 669-700, June.
    4. Ryan, Mandy & Scott, David A. & Donaldson, Cam, 2004. "Valuing health care using willingness to pay: a comparison of the payment card and dichotomous choice methods," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 237-258, March.
    5. MacMillan, Douglas & Hanley, Nick & Lienhoop, Nele, 2006. "Contingent valuation: Environmental polling or preference engine?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 299-307, November.
    6. Meyerhoff, Jurgen & Liebe, Ulf, 2006. "Protest beliefs in contingent valuation: Explaining their motivation," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(4), pages 583-594, June.
    7. Cameron, Trudy Ann & Huppert, Daniel D., 1989. "OLS versus ML estimation of non-market resource values with payment card interval data," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 230-246, November.
    8. Dale Whittington, 2007. "Improving the Performance of Contingent Valuation Studies in Developing Countries," EEPSEA Special and Technical Paper sp200709s1, Economy and Environment Program for Southeast Asia (EEPSEA), revised Sep 2007.
    9. Herriges, Joseph A. & Shogren, Jason F., 1996. "Starting Point Bias in Dichotomous Choice Valuation with Follow-Up Questioning," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 112-131, January.
    10. Michael Ahlheim & Benchaphun Ekasingh & Oliver Frör & Jirawan Kitchaincharoen & Andreas Neef & Chapika Sangkapitux & Nopasom Sinphurmsukskul, 2007. "Using Citizen Expert Groups in Environmental Valuation - Lessons from a CVM study in Northern Thailand," Diskussionspapiere aus dem Institut für Volkswirtschaftslehre der Universität Hohenheim 283/2007, Department of Economics, University of Hohenheim, Germany.
    11. McDaniels, Timothy L. & Gregory, Robin & Arvai, Joseph & Chuenpagdee, Ratana, 2003. "Decision structuring to alleviate embedding in environmental valuation," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 33-46, August.
    12. Richard Carson & Theodore Groves, 2007. "Incentive and informational properties of preference questions," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 37(1), pages 181-210, May.
    13. Li Chuan-Zhong & Mattsson Leif, 1995. "Discrete Choice under Preference Uncertainty: An Improved Structural Model for Contingent Valuation," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 256-269, March.
    14. Gregory, Robin & Lichtenstein, Sarah & Slovic, Paul, 1993. " Valuing Environmental Resources: A Constructive Approach," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 7(2), pages 177-97, October.
    15. 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.
    16. David K. Whynes & Jane L. Wolstenholme & Emma Frew, 2004. "Evidence of range bias in contingent valuation payment scales," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(2), pages 183-190.
    17. Richard C. Ready & Jean C. Buzby & Dayuan Hu, 1996. "Differences between Continuous and Discrete Contingent Value Estimates," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 72(3), pages 397-411.
    18. Fischer, Anke & Hanley, Nick, 2007. "Analysing decision behaviour in stated preference surveys: A consumer psychological approach," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(2-3), pages 303-314, March.
    19. DeShazo, J. R., 2002. "Designing Transactions without Framing Effects in Iterative Question Formats," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 43(3), pages 360-385, May.
    20. Jorgensen, Bradley S. & Syme, Geoffrey J., 2000. "Protest responses and willingness to pay: attitude toward paying for stormwater pollution abatement," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 251-265, May.
    21. Andreoni, James, 1990. "Impure Altruism and Donations to Public Goods: A Theory of Warm-Glow Giving?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(401), pages 464-77, June.
    22. Patricia A. Champ & Richard C. Bishop, 2006. "Is Willingness to Pay for a Public Good Sensitive to the Elicitation Format?," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 82(2), pages 162-173.
    23. Butler, David & Loomes, Graham, 1997. "Quasi-rational Search under Incomplete Information: Some Evidence from Experiments," The Manchester School of Economic & Social Studies, University of Manchester, vol. 65(2), pages 127-44, March.
    24. John Conlisk, 2003. "A Note on Convergence of Adaptive Satisficing to Optimal Stopping," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(6), pages 1353-1360, December.
    25. W. George Hutchinson & Susan M. Chilton & John Davis, 1995. "Measuring Non-Use Value Of Environmental Goods Using The Contingent Valuation Method: Problems Of Information And Cognition And The Application Of Cognitive Questionnaire Design Methods," Journal of Agricultural Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46(1), pages 97-112.
    26. Christopher G. Leggett & Naomi S. Kleckner & Kevin J. Boyle & John W. Dufield & Robert Cameron Mitchell, 2003. "Social Desirability Bias in Contingent Valuation Surveys Administered Through In-Person Interviews," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 79(4), pages 561-575.
    27. Mas-Colell, Andreu & Whinston, Michael D. & Green, Jerry R., 1995. "Microeconomic Theory," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195102680.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:68:y:2008:i:1-2:p:570-581. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Zhang, Lei)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.