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Putting the Spotlight on Attribute Definition: Divergence Between Experts and the Public

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  • Jonelle Cleland

    () (School of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of Western Australia)

  • Abbie McCartney

    () (School of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of Western Australia)

Abstract

One of the key stages of designing a choice experiment is to define the attributes of interest. The attributes chosen essentially influence all subsequent activities carried out in a choice study.Surprisingly, the process of attribute definition is not the subject of critical and ongoing inquiry. In the context of informing policy, the choice modelling literature suggests that a given set of attributes should (1) reflect public interests, (2) have a sound scientific basis, and (3) provide useful information to end-users. Fulfilling all criteria presents a challenging task to researchers. Conflicts between criteria are possible, and there are currently no guidelines to assist researchers innegotiating their way through potentially competing sets of information and viewpoints. We investigated the potential for divergence between members of the public and scientific experts. The investigation was carried out across three environmental systems which differed according to their scale and institutional setting. The results showed that attribute definitions do indeed diverge. Critical points of divergence observed across all case studies included: the way in which the public and experts defined attributes that represented the biodiversity of the system; the public’s inclusion of attributes that represented the terrestrial/marine interface; and the public’s inclination to aggregate attributes when asked to choose their top picks. A number of additional points of divergence were observed, but these were case specific.

Suggested Citation

  • Jonelle Cleland & Abbie McCartney, 2010. "Putting the Spotlight on Attribute Definition: Divergence Between Experts and the Public," Environmental Economics Research Hub Research Reports 1077, Environmental Economics Research Hub, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
  • Handle: RePEc:een:eenhrr:1077
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. R.K. Blamey & J.W. Bennett & J.J. Louviere & M.D. Morrison & J.C. Rolfe, 2002. "Attribute Causality in Environmental Choice Modelling," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 23(2), pages 167-186, October.
    2. John Rolfe & Jill Windle, 2010. "Testing for geographic scope and scale effects with choice modelling: Application to the Great Barrier Reef," Environmental Economics Research Hub Research Reports 1069, Environmental Economics Research Hub, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
    3. Blamey, Russell K. & Rolfe, John & Bennett, Jeffrey W. & Morrison, Mark, 2000. "Valuing remnant vegetation in Central Queensland using choice modelling," Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society, vol. 44(3), September.
    4. Rolfe, John & Windle, Jill, 2010. "Testing for geographic scope and scale effects with choice modelling: Application to the Great Barrier Reef," Research Reports 95048, Australian National University, Environmental Economics Research Hub.
    5. Jonelle Cleland & Abbie Rogers, 2010. "Putting the Spotlight on Attribute Definition:a knowledge base approach," Environmental Economics Research Hub Research Reports 1079, Environmental Economics Research Hub, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
    6. Rolfe, John & Wang, Xuehong, 2008. "Exploring Scope and Scale Issues in Choice Modelling Design," Research Reports 94806, Australian National University, Environmental Economics Research Hub.
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    11. Rolfe, John & Bennett, Jeff & Louviere, Jordan, 2000. "Choice modelling and its potential application to tropical rainforest preservation," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 289-302, November.
    12. Clive L. Spash, 2008. "How Much is that Ecosystem in the Window? The One with the Bio-diverse Trail," Environmental Values, White Horse Press, vol. 17(2), pages 259-284, May.
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    1. Cleland, Jonelle & Rogers, Abbie A., 2010. "Putting the Spotlight on Attribute Definition: a knowledge base approach," Research Reports 107578, Australian National University, Environmental Economics Research Hub.

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