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How can Behavioral Economics Inform Non-Market Valuation? An Example from the Preference Reversal Literature


  • Jonathan E. Alevy

    () (Department of Economics, University of Alaska Anchorage)

  • John A. List

    () (Department of Economics, University of Chicago)

  • Wiktor Adamowicz

    () (Department of Rural Economy, University of Alberta)


Psychological insights have made inroads within most areas of study in economics. One area where less advance has occurred is environmental and resource economics. In this study, we examine preference reversals over evaluation modes, in which economic values critically depend on whether a good is valued jointly with others, or in isolation. The question arises because two methods for eliciting stated preferences differ in that one presents objects together and another presents them in isolation. Our empirical evidence demonstrates the import of behavioral economics, and sheds new light on the possible insensitivity of valuations to the scope of the good.

Suggested Citation

  • Jonathan E. Alevy & John A. List & Wiktor Adamowicz, 2010. "How can Behavioral Economics Inform Non-Market Valuation? An Example from the Preference Reversal Literature," Working Papers 2010-08, University of Alaska Anchorage, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ala:wpaper:2010-08

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Slovic, Paul & Finucane, Melissa L. & Peters, Ellen & MacGregor, Donald G., 2007. "The affect heuristic," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 177(3), pages 1333-1352, March.
    2. Shogren, Jason F. & Margolis, Michael & Koo, Cannon & List, John A., 2001. "A random nth-price auction," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 46(4), pages 409-421, December.
    3. Daniel Kahneman, 2003. "Maps of Bounded Rationality: Psychology for Behavioral Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(5), pages 1449-1475, December.
    4. 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.
    5. Irwin, Julie R & Slovic, Paul & Lichtenstein, Sarah & McClelland, Gary H., 1993. "Preference Reversals and the Measurement of Environmental Values," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 6(1), pages 5-18, January.
    6. John A. List, 2002. "Preference Reversals of a Different Kind: The "More Is Less" Phenomenon," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1636-1643, December.
    7. Richard Carson & Nicholas Flores & Norman Meade, 2001. "Contingent Valuation: Controversies and Evidence," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 19(2), pages 173-210, June.
    8. Heberlein, Thomas A. & Wilson, Matthew A. & Bishop, Richard C. & Schaeffer, Nora Cate, 2005. "Rethinking the scope test as a criterion for validity in contingent valuation," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 1-22, July.
    9. Wiktor Adamowicz & Jonathan E. Alevy & John A. List, 2006. "Behavioural Economics and the Valuation of Non-marketed Goods and Services: The Lab, the Behavioral Anomalies and the Policymaker," Chapters,in: Using Experimental Methods in Environmental and Resource Economics, chapter 8 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    10. Adamowicz, Wiktor L. & Boxall, Peter C. & Williams, Michael & Louviere, Jordan, 1995. "Stated Preference Approaches for Measuring Passive Use Values: Choice Experiments versus Contingent Valuation," Staff Paper Series 24126, University of Alberta, Department of Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology.
    11. Grether, David M & Plott, Charles R, 1979. "Economic Theory of Choice and the Preference Reversal Phenomenon," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(4), pages 623-638, September.
    12. John A. List, 2003. "Does Market Experience Eliminate Market Anomalies?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(1), pages 41-71.
    13. Boxall, Peter C. & Adamowicz, Wiktor L. & Swait, Joffre & Williams, Michael & Louviere, Jordan, 1996. "A comparison of stated preference methods for environmental valuation," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 243-253, September.
    14. Magat, Wesley A. & Kip Viscusi, W. & Huber, Joel, 1988. "Paired comparison and contingent valuation approaches to morbidity risk valuation," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 15(4), pages 395-411, December.
    15. 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.
    16. William Vickrey, 1961. "Counterspeculation, Auctions, And Competitive Sealed Tenders," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 16(1), pages 8-37, March.
    17. Bazerman, Max H. & Moore, Don A. & Tenbrunsel, Ann E. & Wade-Benzoni, Kimberly A. & Blount, Sally, 1999. "Explaining how preferences change across joint versus separate evaluation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 41-58, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Stachtiaris, Spiros & Drichoutis, Andreas C. & Klonaris, Stathis, 2011. "The "more is less" phenomenon in Contingent and Inferred valuation," 2011 International Congress, August 30-September 2, 2011, Zurich, Switzerland 116013, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
    2. Oviedo, José L. & Caparrós, Alejandro & Ruiz-Gauna, Itziar & Campos, Pablo, 2016. "Testing convergent validity in choice experiments: Application to public recreation in Spanish stone pine and cork oak forests," Journal of Forest Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(C), pages 130-148.
    3. Oviedo, José L. & Caparrós, Alejandro, 2015. "Information and visual attention in contingent valuation and choice modeling: field and eye-tracking experiments applied to reforestations in Spain," Journal of Forest Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(4), pages 185-204.

    More about this item


    field experiment;

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • Q51 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Valuation of Environmental Effects


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