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Does context matter more for hypothetical than for actual contributions? Evidence from a natural field experiment

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  • Francisco Alpizar
  • Fredrik Carlsson

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  • Olof Johansson-Stenman

Abstract

We investigate the importance of the social context for people’s voluntary contributions to a national park in Costa Rica, using a natural field experiment. Some subjects make actual contributions while others state their hypothetical contribution. Both the degree of anonymity and provided information about the contributions of others influence subject contributions in the hypothesized direction. We do find a substantial hypothetical bias with regard to the amount contributed. However, the influence of the social contexts is about the same when the subjects make actual monetary contributions as when they state theirhypothetical contributions. Our results have important implications for validity testing of stated preference methods: a comparison between hypothetical and actual behavior should be done for a given social context.
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Suggested Citation

  • Francisco Alpizar & Fredrik Carlsson & Olof Johansson-Stenman, 2008. "Does context matter more for hypothetical than for actual contributions? Evidence from a natural field experiment," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 11(3), pages 299-314, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:expeco:v:11:y:2008:i:3:p:299-314 DOI: 10.1007/s10683-007-9194-9
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    Cited by:

    1. Newman, George E. & Jeremy Shen, Y., 2012. "The counterintuitive effects of thank-you gifts on charitable giving," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 33(5), pages 973-983.
    2. Juan Camilo Cárdenas, 2009. "Experiments in Environment and Development," Annual Review of Resource Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 1(1), pages 157-182, September.
    3. Dale Whittington & Vic Adamowicz, 2010. "The Use of Hypothetical Baselines in Stated Preference Surveys," EEPSEA Special and Technical Paper sp201009s1, Economy and Environment Program for Southeast Asia (EEPSEA), revised Sep 2010.
    4. Blanco, Esther & Lopez, Maria Claudia & Coleman, Eric A., 2012. "Voting for environmental donations: Experimental evidence from Majorca, Spain," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(C), pages 52-60.
    5. Omar Al-Ubaydli & John A. List, 2013. "On the Generalizability of Experimental Results in Economics: With a Response to Commentors," CESifo Working Paper Series 4543, CESifo Group Munich.
    6. John List, 2008. "Introduction to field experiments in economics with applications to the economics of charity," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 11(3), pages 203-212, September.
    7. Newell, Laurie W. & Swallow, Stephen K., 2013. "Real-payment choice experiments: Valuing forested wetlands and spatial attributes within a landscape context," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 37-47.
    8. Omar Al-Ubaydli & John A. List, 2013. "On the Generalizability of Experimental Results in Economics: With A Response To Camerer," NBER Working Papers 19666, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Michael Fritsch & Alina Rusakova, 2010. "Personality Traits, Self-Employment, and Professions," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 343, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    10. repec:kap:enreec:v:67:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s10640-016-0028-0 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Konow, James, 2010. "Mixed feelings: Theories of and evidence on giving," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, pages 279-297.
    12. Carlsson, Fredrik & Kataria, Mitesh & Krupnick, Alan & Lampi, Elina & Löfgren, Åsa & Qin, Ping & Sterner, Thomas, 2013. "The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth—A multiple country test of an oath script," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 105-121.
    13. Fredrik Carlsson, 2010. "Design of Stated Preference Surveys: Is There More to Learn from Behavioral Economics?," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, pages 167-177.
    14. Fredrik Carlsson, 2010. "Design of Stated Preference Surveys: Is There More to Learn from Behavioral Economics?," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, pages 167-177.
    15. Kettner, Sara Elisa & Waichman, Israel, 2016. "Old age and prosocial behavior: Social preferences or experimental confounds?," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 118-130.
    16. Schilizzi, Steven, 2011. "Equity judgments and context dependence: Knowledge, efficiency and incentives," Working Papers 100887, University of Western Australia, School of Agricultural and Resource Economics.
    17. repec:eee:ecolec:v:144:y:2018:i:c:p:124-128 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Environmental valuation; Stated preference methods; Voluntary contributions; Anonymity; Conformity; Natural field experiment; C93; Q50;

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • Q50 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - General

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