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Examining unconditional preference revelation in choice experiments: a voting game approach


  • Matthew Interis
  • Chang Xu
  • Daniel Petrolia
  • Kalyn Coatney


If respondents are strategic, voting in choice experiments may violate the common modelling assumption that everyone votes for his unconditionally most-preferred alternative. This presents a challenge to accurately estimating welfare measures. We conduct a homegrown-value laboratory experiment designed to mimic a three-alternative choice experiment. Two key pieces of information not previously collected from participants are their (1) unconditionally most-preferred alternative and (2) their perception of the likely vote distribution. We are able to identify whether participants adopt a strategy of voting for their second-most-preferred alternative when their most-preferred alternative is believed likely to garner the fewest votes. We find that many more participants do not vote for their most-preferred alternative than theory predicts. We also test whether prompting participants to think about the likely vote distribution before voting affects their own vote. We find that prompting participants does not affect strategic voting. We find percentages of participants who do not vote for their most-preferred alternative, who cast strategic votes for their second most-preferred alternative, and who cast apparently 'irrational' votes are close to estimates from studies in political election settings. The presence of strategic and irrational votes should cause choice experiment researchers to rethink their model assumptions.

Suggested Citation

  • Matthew Interis & Chang Xu & Daniel Petrolia & Kalyn Coatney, 2016. "Examining unconditional preference revelation in choice experiments: a voting game approach," Journal of Environmental Economics and Policy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 5(1), pages 125-142, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:teepxx:v:5:y:2016:i:1:p:125-142
    DOI: 10.1080/21606544.2015.1033021

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Nicolas Jacquemet & Stéphane Luchini & Jason F. Shogren & Verity Watson, 2019. "Discrete Choice under Oaths," Documents de travail du Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne 19007, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1), Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne.

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