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Good girl-bad boy. Making identity statements when answering a questionnaire

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Abstract

Environmental policy analyses often draw on stated preferences, with most humans having strong preferences with respect to how we view ourselves and how we would like others to perceive us. This may create systematic differences between reported and real behavior, making policy analysis based on stated preferences difficult. In this paper, we model how social and moral norms and the image we would like to project affect reported and actual behavior. We illustrate the model using data from a stated preference survey reporting environment-related household behavior in ten OECD countries. We find clear evidence of how norms and identity statements affect reported behavior. We also find evidence of the misrepresentation of preferences, both among respondents complying with and protesting the norm. Over- and understatements appear to be evenly distributed, and is thus not expected to significantly bias the mean results.

Suggested Citation

  • Bente Halvorsen, 2010. "Good girl-bad boy. Making identity statements when answering a questionnaire," Discussion Papers 609, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
  • Handle: RePEc:ssb:dispap:609
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    File URL: http://www.ssb.no/a/publikasjoner/pdf/DP/dp609.pdf
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    1. Bente Halvorsen, 2008. "Effects of Norms and Opportunity Cost of Time on Household Recycling," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 84(3), pages 501-516.
    2. Andreoni, James, 1990. "Impure Altruism and Donations to Public Goods: A Theory of Warm-Glow Giving?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(401), pages 464-477, June.
    3. Blamey, Russell K., 1998. "Decisiveness, attitude expression and symbolic responses in contingent valuation surveys," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 577-601, March.
    4. Clive L. Spash, 2006. "Non-Economic Motivation for Contingent Values: Rights and Attitudinal Beliefs in the Willingness To Pay for Environmental Improvements," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 82(4), pages 602-622.
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    Keywords

    Household behavior; Environment; Norms; Stated preferences.;

    JEL classification:

    • B41 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - Economic Methodology
    • D1 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior
    • Q28 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Government Policy
    • Q38 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation - - - Government Policy (includes OPEC Policy)
    • Q48 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Government Policy

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