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Cognitive Dissonance As a Means of Reducing Hypothetical Bias

  • Alfnes, Frode
  • Yue, Chengyan
  • Jensen, Helen H.

�Hypothetical bias is a persistent problem in stated preference studies. We propose and test a method for reducing hypothetical bias based on the cognitive dissonance literature in social psychology. A central element of this literature is that people prefer not to take inconsistent stands and will change their attitudes and behavior to make them consistent. We find that participants in a stated preference willingness-to-pay study, when told that a nonhypothetical study of similar goods would follow, state significantly lower willingness to pay than participants not so informed. In other words, participants adjust their stated willingness to pay to avoid cognitive dissonance from taking inconsistent stands on their willingness to pay for the good being offered. (09-WP 486)

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Paper provided by Iowa State University, Department of Economics in its series Staff General Research Papers with number 31300.

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Date of creation: 13 Apr 2010
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Publication status: Published in European Review of Agricultural Economics 2010, vol. 37 no. 2, pp. 147-163
Handle: RePEc:isu:genres:31300
Contact details of provider: Postal: Iowa State University, Dept. of Economics, 260 Heady Hall, Ames, IA 50011-1070
Phone: +1 515.294.6741
Fax: +1 515.294.0221
Web page: http://www.econ.iastate.edu
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  1. Karen Blumenschein & GlennC. Blomquist & Magnus Johannesson & Nancy Horn & Patricia Freeman, 2008. "Eliciting Willingness to Pay Without Bias: Evidence from a Field Experiment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 118(525), pages 114-137, 01.
  2. Frode Alfnes, 2009. "Valuing product attributes in Vickrey auctions when market substitutes are available," European Review of Agricultural Economics, Foundation for the European Review of Agricultural Economics, vol. 36(2), pages 133-149, June.
  3. Laura O. Taylor & Ronald G. Cummings, 1999. "Unbiased Value Estimates for Environmental Goods: A Cheap Talk Design for the Contingent Valuation Method," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 649-665, June.
  4. Knut Veisten & St�le Navrud, 2006. "Contingent valuation and actual payment for voluntarily provided passive-use values: Assessing the effect of an induced truth-telling mechanism and elicitation formats," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 38(7), pages 735-756.
  5. Alfnes, Frode & Guttormsen, Atle G. & Steine, Gro & Kolstad, Kari, 2005. "Consumers' Willingness To Pay For The Color Of Salmon:A Choice Experiment With Real Economic Incentives," 2005 Annual meeting, July 24-27, Providence, RI 19126, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
  6. Gro Steine & Kari Kolstad, 2006. "Consumers' Willingness to Pay for the Color of Salmon: A Choice Experiment with Real Economic Incentives," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 88(4), pages 1050-1061.
  7. Fisher, Robert J, 1993. " Social Desirability Bias and the Validity of Indirect Questioning," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(2), pages 303-15, September.
  8. List, John A. & Shogren, Jason F., 1998. "Calibration of the difference between actual and hypothetical valuations in a field experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 37(2), pages 193-205, October.
  9. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521855167 is not listed on IDEAS
  10. Murphy, James J. & Stevens, Thomas H., 2004. "Contingent Valuation, Hypothetical Bias, and Experimental Economics," Agricultural and Resource Economics Review, Northeastern Agricultural and Resource Economics Association, vol. 33(2), October.
  11. Christopher G. Leggett & Naomi S. Kleckner & Kevin J. Boyle & John W. Dufield & Robert Cameron Mitchell, 2003. "Social Desirability Bias in Contingent Valuation Surveys Administered Through In-Person Interviews," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 79(4), pages 561-575.
  12. Jayson Lusk & Ted Schroeder, 2004. "Are choice experiments incentive compatible? A test with quality differentiated beef steaks," Artefactual Field Experiments 00096, The Field Experiments Website.
  13. Yue, Chengyan & Alfnes, Frode & Jensen, Helen H., 2009. "Discounting Spotted Apples: Investigating Consumers’ Willingness to Accept Cosmetic Damage in an Organic Product," Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Southern Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 41(01), April.
  14. Carlsson, Fredrik & Martinsson, Peter, 2001. "Do Hypothetical and Actual Marginal Willingness to Pay Differ in Choice Experiments?: Application to the Valuation of the Environment," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 179-192, March.
  15. Champ, Patricia A. & Bishop, Richard C. & Brown, Thomas C. & McCollum, Daniel W., 1997. "Using Donation Mechanisms to Value Nonuse Benefits from Public Goods," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 151-162, June.
  16. Johansson-Stenman Olof & Svedsäter Henrik, 2008. "Measuring Hypothetical Bias in Choice Experiments: The Importance of Cognitive Consistency," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 8(1), pages 1-10, September.
  17. John List, 2001. "Do explicit warnings eliminate the hypothetical bias in elicitation procedures? Evidence from field auctions for sportscards," Framed Field Experiments 00163, The Field Experiments Website.
  18. James Murphy & P. Allen & Thomas Stevens & Darryl Weatherhead, 2005. "A Meta-analysis of Hypothetical Bias in Stated Preference Valuation," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 30(3), pages 313-325, 03.
  19. Glenn Harrison, 2006. "Experimental Evidence on Alternative Environmental Valuation Methods," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 34(1), pages 125-162, 05.
  20. John List & Craig Gallet, 2001. "What Experimental Protocol Influence Disparities Between Actual and Hypothetical Stated Values?," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 20(3), pages 241-254, November.
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