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

Author

Listed:
  • Alpizar, Francisco

    (Environment for Development Center, Tropical Agricultural and Higher Education Center (CATIE))

  • Carlsson, Fredrik

    (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University)

  • Johansson-Stenman, Olof

    (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University)

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Alpizar, Francisco & Carlsson, Fredrik & Johansson-Stenman, Olof, 2007. "Does context matter more for hypothetical than for actual contributions? Evidence from a natural field experiment," Working Papers in Economics 251, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:gunwpe:0251
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2077/3323
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Environmental valuation; stated preference methods; voluntary contributions; anonymity; conformity; natural field experiment;
    All these keywords.

    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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