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Willingness to pay, attitudes and fundamental values -- On the cognitive context of public preferences for diversity in agricultural landscapes

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  • Sauer, Uta
  • Fischer, Anke

Abstract

Our study set out to investigate if and how willingness to pay -- both hypothetical and actual -- might reflect individuals' wider cognitive networks. We draw on the idea of cognitive hierarchies, i.e., the notion that concrete preferences and attitudes are embedded in networks of more abstract beliefs and values, and explore if willingness to pay (WTP) as expressed through contingent valuation can be understood as part of such hierarchies. To this end, we elicited stated and actual WTP in a survey of public preferences and attitudes towards the establishment of an agri-environmental payment scheme in Northeim, Germany, that rewards farmers for the provision of riparian buffer strips. Two main findings emerged from the study. First, only a very small proportion of those stating positive WTP did actually transfer the money. Second, contrary to our hypotheses, results from a Structural Equation Model suggest that stated WTP was only poorly connected to attitudes towards the payment scheme and other potentially relevant, more abstract beliefs and values. This casts doubts on the meaningfulness of such statements. Of the ten different fundamental value types included, only universalism and conformity played a significant role in the cognitive hierarchy and informed generalised environmental beliefs as well as attitudes towards the payment scheme. As attitudes seemed to be better integrated in the cognitive network than WTP, we discuss if surveys of public preferences should rely on attitude statements rather than solely on monetary values.

Suggested Citation

  • Sauer, Uta & Fischer, Anke, 2010. "Willingness to pay, attitudes and fundamental values -- On the cognitive context of public preferences for diversity in agricultural landscapes," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(1), pages 1-9, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:70:y:2010:i:1:p:1-9
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    Cited by:

    1. Ryan, Anthony M. & Spash, Clive L., 2011. "Is WTP an attitudinal measure? Empirical analysis of the psychological explanation for contingent values," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 32(5), pages 674-687.
    2. Armatas, Christopher A. & Venn, Tyron J. & Watson, Alan E., 2014. "Applying Q-methodology to select and define attributes for non-market valuation: A case study from Northwest Wyoming, United States," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 447-456.
    3. Ohler, Adrienne M. & Billger, Sherrilyn M., 2014. "Does environmental concern change the tragedy of the commons? Factors affecting energy saving behaviors and electricity usage," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 1-12.
    4. repec:eee:ecoser:v:7:y:2014:i:c:p:46-56 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Levan Elbakidze & Rodolfo M. Nayga Jr. & Hao Li & Chris McIntosh, 2014. "Value elicitation for multiple quantities of a quasi-public good using open ended choice experiments and uniform price auctions," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 45(2), pages 253-265, March.

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